Commentary/Discussion: Homeless in the U. S.

Evading Our Responsibility

What do you think?    A lot of work.________________

Gavin Newsom "Connects"

Homeless Persons             


San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer Kevin Fagan, who has tracked homeless stories for years, wrote recently, "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's year-old crusade to get hard-core homeless people off the streets and into housing has gained real momentum."

Fagan saw evidence of the momentum in the 575 volunteers who participated Feb. 17 in Project Homeless Connect and "the 200 homeless people waiting eagerly for the doors to open at 8 a.m." at the Bill Graham Auditorium.

Highlighting the impact on the homeless participants, Fagan reported the following comment by a homeless person: "'This Newsom guy must be serious, because I just heard about this "connect" thing on the street,' Red Bull said. 'They're saying out there that it's not bull-. They say you can get real help. I think they're right.'" ["Huge volunteer turnout, new housing are latest signs of progress in S.F., Hope for the Homeless," by Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 18, 2005; page 1.]

And here is Mayor Newsom's own take on Project Connect:
"Project Homeless Connect is breaking the myth that people do not seek assistance and services and would simply prefer to be on the street. The data proves that when people are approached in a respectful and kind manner, and with available resources, they are eager to accept help towards self-sufficiency. National outreach professionals agree that it takes multiple contacts to build trust towards accepting assistance. The goal of this effort is to do just that.

"The goal of this initiative is to learn from our collective experience, tap into the enthusiasm of committed San Franciscans and together, one-by-one, transition people in need from the street into housing linked with supportive services." [From the Mayor's message in Project Homeless Connect's website:]

Interested in getting involved? Contact to RSVP for one of the upcoming trainings.

Comment: In my book, Mayor Gavin Newsom has accomplished more by adopting the housing-first strategy than the last three mayors put together. His hands-on approach, the focus on integrated services, and his admission that a lot still needs to be done have reduced my usual skepticism about the intentions and abilities of politicians and bureaucrats in addressing the needs of homeless persons. But there are serious questions to be answered, as can be evidenced in the next item. --Michael


"It's An Undercount,"

Say Homeless Advocates


Homeles advocates are up in arms over the Mayor's claims of a 42% fall in the number of homeless persons in San Francisco.

"This outrageously low number is either politically motivated or a result of gross incompetence," according to Jennifer Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness. "There is a lot of pressure on the Mayor to demonstrate success in solving homelessness, and to say this number exaggerates that success would be an understatement." [Source: San Francisco Call at]

The Coalition on Homelessness has pointed to gaps in the thoroughness of the homeless count. Housing several hundred homeless welfare recipients, it is pointed out, would account for only a portion of the 1,880 fall in homeless street count numbers. What happened to the rest of 1,880 homeless persons?

Comment: The discrepancy troubles me. Do we have here a mystery that cannot be unlocked? A sizeable fault line in the counting methodology? Wishful thinking? Magic-by-the-bay? Greyhound therapy? --Michael


A Lack Of Housing,

Living-Wage Jobs,

Educational Opportunities


Chance Martin, editor of the San Francisco Street Sheet, told t
he San Francisco Chronicle recently that when he saw a homeless person he understood the problem was "a lack of housing, a lack of living-wage jobs and educational opportunities." The Chronicle also quoted Martin as saying: "You know there's always been people with drinking problems, with mental health issues. They weren't homeless when I was a kid. Now they're very much under attack. And the rhetoric of 'social responsibility' is just an alibi our politicians give for evading their social responsibility."

[From "He came to San Francisco a broken man. Speaking out for the homeless made him whole," by Mike Weiss, Datebook section, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 2, 2005; pages E1 and E2; Online:]

What do you think? Click below on "Comment" to enter your thoughts on the subject. I look forward to hearing from you.--Michael


One-Stop Homeless

Employment Center

Proposed for San Francisco


Both the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle reported May 26 that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has proposed increases in housing and homeless services.

The Examiner added that the proposal included a doubling of the City's outreach workers and the creation of a one-stop employment center and a respite center. It quoted Newsom as saying: "We have never done enough in San Francisco on employment as it relates to homelessness."

What do you think? Click below on "Comment" to enter your thoughts on the subject. I look forward to hearing from you.--Michael




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Posted on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 at 08:30PM by Registered CommenterMichael Chacko Daniels | Comments1 Comment