Is San Francisco’s Care-Not-Cash a Success?
A May 3 SF Chronicle article on Mayor Newsom’s Care-Not-Cash proclaimed, “SF Making Strides to Solve Homeless Problem. 83 percent reduction in people receiving checks who are homeless.” Our new member was outraged. “Are we to be happy that there has been a 5/6th reduction in money for homeless people? How does this relate to abatement of human suffering? Why does the Chronicle or Newsom feel that it’s a great accomplishment?”
Most General Assistance (GA) recipients got their checks reduced to $65 monthly, but only one in three or four got any kind of housing. And “housing” increasingly means a shelter bed.
The increasingly inadequate number of shelter beds are reserved for those GA recipients because every shelter bed occupied by a GA recipient represents a big savings for the City.
If you don’t qualify for GA, such as being undocumented, or are receiving any other benefits (like most seniors and people with disabilities), you start standing in line at 4 AM to get a bed, and even then you’ll be turned away an average of six times a month. You’re not allowed to use your bed until 8 PM, so you’re on the street all day. The drop-in center where you can rest or use the bathroom is being closed as part of the budget cuts.
If you get a bed, it’s supposed to be yours for a week, but some are one-night-only beds that belong to other programs but aren’t being used that night for some reason. So if you’re unlucky enough to be assigned a one-night-only bed, you’re back on the line the next morning at 4 AM hoping you’ll get a week-long bed.
The number of families needing shelters doubled from 2007 to 2008, At the same time, the city has reduced family shelter beds by 20 percent, and the waiting list is now more than four months long — meaning families are waiting for shelter longer than they can actually stay in it.
Around 3 AM on even the coldest of nights, a City water truck makes its rounds through the Tenderloin, hosing down doorways where homeless unable to get a bed are sleeping. And this is what Newsom and the Chronicle call success.