Most San Fran Homeless have City-funded Home
Just as I’ve always suspected and tried to tell folks!! And yet SF keeps handing out homeless money to those who AREN’T homeless!! There goes the taxpayers’ money! As a social worker I see ‘homeless’ people in my office every week and I KNOW that some of them are not really homeless. They are trying to see what they can get by calling themselves homeless. Sadly, it has to be pretty severe and I have to have some proof for me to believe someone is in a true crisis – especially homelessness. But you get used to looking for the real signs and it’s not as hard as you think.
Most homeless have city-funded home
San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, July 17, 2008
A long overdue civil grand jury report released Wednesday says that the city should be proud of getting over 4,000 homeless people into housing since 2004 but distressed at the scene on the streets.
Panhandling, public drunkenness and street loitering are still an unpleasant reality downtown.
The mayor and others are now admitting what the grand jury reported – that a majority of those on the streets are not homeless. The head of the city’s homeless program, Dariush Kayhan, estimates that 50 to 75 percent of street people live in supportive housing.
“We just warehouse addicts,” said the grand jury’s Stuart Smith. “Granted, it is a nicer place for them, but it doesn’t address the problem.”
In short, the jury is reflecting the views of many San Franciscans who made the choice to live here. They understood that housing and taxes would be higher, and so would the cost of a meal in a restaurant. They understand and believe that the city needs to provide for its poorest homeless residents and don’t begrudge what the grand jury says is $186 million a year in city funds spent to finance homeless programs.
But, they ask, can’t someone stop the panhandling? And, given all the programs and services, is it unreasonable to ask those who are being given supportive housing to start making some effort to be self-sufficient?
“People’s conduct has to be held to account,” Supervisor Bevan Dufty said. “They can’t engage in conduct that is hurtful to them or others.”
Enforcing that is easier said than done. But it does begin the dialogue.
“I think the grand jury did an excellent job,” Kayhan said. “We got people into housing, but we acknowledge that it is now time to make the next step, moving on to jobs, treatment and schools.”
The tough part, as always, is how to do that.
“I understand that the public is frustrated,” said Jeff Kositsky, executive director of the Community Housing Partnership, which has over 950 residents in supportive housing. “But it is easy to demonize people when you don’t know them.”
Advocates like Kositsky are entering the dialogue, but not just to rail against change.
“We appreciate the need to innovate,” Kositsky said. “We’re all looking for new ideas.”
If that’s the case, the grand jury has a report for you. It begins with the money, pointing out that the city is now spending $186 million a year on homelessness, six times what was spent in 1993-94.
“Are we getting the most bang for our buck?” Kayhan asked. “I agree that we are at a place now where we would like to see the cost effectiveness of our programs.”
Hardly a week goes by without a note or e-mail from a tourist who was shocked by behaviors and conditions downtown. When San Franciscans supported Mayor Gavin Newsom’s “Care Not Cash” effort in 2004, many felt that getting the homeless into housing would solve the problem.
The fact is, despite a supportive housing effort that has gotten national attention, the streets don’t seem that much better. And there doesn’t seem to be a standard of measurement for what the programs are trying to accomplish.
The grand jury members say they were told that “expectations were unnecessarily low for supportive housing patrons” and that at present the measure of success is whether or not residents stay in the housing. Not surprisingly, over 90 percent do. But how many of them are panhandling every afternoon?