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May 04, 2005

Comments

Andrew Cory

hot damn!

michael

The mayor's last name is 'Newsom' not 'Newsome.'

John G

Newsom still hasn't rolled out his plans for divesting from the 12 Galaxies, though.

JimPortlandOR

Why can't they use the cash from the reduced welfare percentage to pay more than $59?

Still, a great program. Dems should be all over this plan, since homelessness is a big issue in many places, and not just in major cities. My sister in a upper-class western suburb of Chicago now complains about the homeless in their small city center.

I wish Portland would get aboard this program because we have the dual homeless and spaging problem - particularly on freeway entrances.

Brew

It's definitely a great program, and it's made a noticeable difference on our streets - just not noticeable enough.

Part of the problem is that while there's already a long list for housing, the city is still allowing SRO's to be torn down, and local homeless advocates are still pretty enraged at the whole program - so there's not the co-operation from some of the organizations that could make the whole thing really work.

Before I move to San Francisco - I would have thought the whole thing was cruel. But the homeless problem here is really out of control, and extraordinary measure aren't out of line.

Old Hat

Don't worry. The "progressive" assholes in the SF Bay Guardian/Matt Gonzalez camp will find fault in Care Not Cash.

Joe Buck

Try "neither care nor cash". The unstated assumption here is that because the numbers on the rolls are down, somehow life for the homeless has gotten better. To get that $59 per month (less than $2/day), a homeless person has to spend vast amounts of time with the city bureaucracy, time that could be spent panhandling or collecting cans instead. So the net effect is that instead of getting $59, many homeless people have decided to pass up the money, but Mayor Newsom can act as though he's decreased the number of homeless. And the housing, which is a good thing, doesn't go far enough, because, as Brew says, low income housing is disappearing as fast as the city can build it.

That's not to say that Newsom doesn't sincerely want to help with the homeless problem (which is where I part company with some of his critics). But one problem is the visible face of the homeless: the public sees the mostly-male, scary looking panhandlers with booze on their breath, and thinks cutting off their drinking money might be a good thing. But Care Not Cash
also takes money away from single mothers living with their kids in a car; they can no longer save up to buy a hotel room on a particularly cold night.

Katherine Graham Cracker

It's important to point out the supportive housing component was opposed by Newsom when he was a member of the BOS and was the work of Supervisor Tom Ammiano. Newsom is an opportunist
who has no clue

And there are huge disputes over the numbers

Old Hat

But Care Not Cash also takes money away from single mothers living with their kids in a car; they can no longer save up to buy a hotel room on a particularly cold night.

Try walking around UN Plaza, especially in front of that 24/7 open air drug market in front of Carl's Jr. or down Eddy sometime and then tell me that San Francisco should dole out $300 in drug money to those guys. Homelessness is out of control in San Francisco. Handing out wads of money isn't fixing anything.

The cash could be better spent on police, drug treatment, etc. I refuse to let my tax dollars subsidize some drug dealer's new grill or some drunk's next bottle of vodka.

praktike

all the hep cats now say "blue-dogging" the poor rather than "DLCing" the poor.

Abby

Grammar Police

it's = it is
its =possessive of it

nenabeans

I agree with Old Hat. It always stricks me when people bring up 'mother with children' and leave off the mother with children and a nasty drug habit. subsidizing drug problems and the drug dealers does not help these same children. Gavin has got the ball rolling on a problem that was careening out of control.
BTW I'm not saying EVERY mother with children.

ethan

http://www.sfbg.com/39/12/news_ed_homeless.html

halle

Mayor Newsom has done an amazing job, especially considering he just gets sniping and backbiting from critics who claim to care about the homeless but have done nothing but say they should all get more money (no housing) whether they spend it on drugs, liquor or not. Getting the hard-core homeless off the street not only improves the quality of life for everyone, but it also reduces the costs of other services like ER care, policing, DPW (cleaning the streets) and numerous other public costs. That in turn frees up more public funds for everything from parks to Care Not Cash.

Also, Mayor Newsom has done an incredible job of focusing on the quality of life in the poorest neighborhoods -- in and around some of the worst public housing projects, he's had his administration clean up and fix street lights, dumpsters, park areas and so on.

Everyone who's complaining is just so used to complaining that they can't become part of the solution.

EliB

Ezra:

I'd advise being a little more selective in your rules of evidence. The SF Chronicle is extremely partisan in its support of Newsom and has boosted Care Not Cash from day one. That doesn't mean the statistics in the article are false, but I would take every statement that is not a verifiable number or a direct quote with a grain of salt. For instance, what is the source of the statement that "from the critics to the residents, reviews of the housing conditions all year have been enthusiastic"? The article doesn't say, but your post simply repeats that claim as fact.

There are other not very subtle clues to the writer's sympathies. For instance, one of the major substantive (as opposed to ideological) arguments against Newsom's plan was that it prioritized CnC recipients to receive scarce shelter beds while waiting for real housing, so that people from the much larger group of marginally homeless who don't meet CnC criteria end up without a bed and thus more homeless than before. The article dismisses this issue in a single phrase: "quibbles over shelter beds". Apparently you either didn't know about this issue or didn't find it worth mentioning. How long have you been following SF politics? (*)

But even assuming the article is gospel, one thing it makes clear, which you do not, is that we don't know what happened to most of the people removed from the welfare rolls. The city has not been very interested in finding out. I do think Newsom means well in many ways, but he certainly behaves as if he's afraid of objective evidence that might contradict his ideology. When you're playing with the lives of people who are poorer than you can imagine, the kind of vague hand-waving that Newsom uses to dismiss critics (as when he says making up for lost federal money is "a value judgment he'll make one case at a time") is inexcusable.

(*) Another thing that makes it sound as if you're not all that familiar with SF: you said criticism of Care Not Cash "drove a strong Green Party challenge that almost denied Newsom the mayorship". I think there's a general consensus that CnC was Newsom's biggest strength in the campaign - he certainly ran as if it was, and it put him over the top with moderate-to-conservative middle-class SF voters, who are sort of like Reagan Democrats on this one issue. (It also got him heaps of very public support from SF business groups - SF was covered with billboards calling for welfare reform, sponsored by hotel and restaurant owners.) The Green Party mayoral challenge, like the previous shakeup in the Board of Supervisors, was driven by disgust at Willie Brown's corrupt and autocratic ways. Newsom was Brown's chosen successor. You don't have to take my word for it or the Bay Guardian's, you can just read anything at all besides the Chron...

EliB

Unfortunately, comments like halle's (9:37 AM) probably do represent how many SF voters think. Of course the "critics say they should all get more money (no housing)" stuff is just straw-man bluster. But statements like "Getting the hard-core homeless off the street ... reduces the costs of other services like ER care, policing ... that in turn frees up more public funds for everything from parks to Care Not Cash" could be mistaken for real arguments, in the total absence of any data about how much this stuff really costs.

So as long as we're throwing anecdotes around: as an RN working at SF General Hospital, I can tell you there has been no noticeable drop in the number of alcoholic or heroin-addicted street people who come in with hypothermia, pneumonia, and ghastly rotting wounds. But that's only surprising if you think the people who received GA checks were mostly addicts and mostly homeless.

halle

EliB -- As long as we're going with anecdotal evidence (your "no noticable drop"), I live just a few blocks from SF General, and since the program started I can tell you there are far fewer homeless people sleeping around my driveway and waiting by the liquor store (100 ft from my door) before opening time on the first of the month (when the GA checks arrived). We've had to make far fewer calls to DPW have human feces cleaned up off the streets, or to call for help for passed out people lying on the street or sidewalk.

I did a lot of talking with colleagues who work with the homeless -- social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. The ones who weren't supporters of the program before are largely supportive now. I'm sure it's not perfect, but knowing the Gonzalez supporters in the city, nothing will ever be perfect enough for them and if it was, they'd move the goalposts. In a year, Newsom has done more positive on social issues than the last I don't know how many mayors put together. If the effort all flames out, I'll criticize it too, but forgive me if I think creating supportive housing for 800 people in SF in a year is something to be proud of.

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