Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Progs lay an egg on homelessness

Photo: Deanne Fitzmaurice for the SF Chronicle

It was the perfect progressive San Francisco political action, long on theater and way short on content. The thing about city progs is that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they think they are cute; they like any action during which they can demonstrate this cuteness. 

I speak of course of the six people who showed up dressed as chickens at Mayor Newsom's community meeting on homelessness last Saturday (Newsom's Town Hall Isn't Just for the Birds, Cecilia Vega, Jan. 14, 2007). The mayor was supposedly "chicken" for refusing to take part in the "question time" dog-and-pony show as per Chris Daly's Proposition I.

One of the "chickens" last Saturday was Ted Strawser, the Party Party guy who maintains an anti-Newsom website.

The mayor was trying to discuss homelessness at the meeting, which is evidently of no interest to Strawser, since there's no mention on his website of the issue that got Newsom elected in 2003. In this Strawser is typical of city progressives. The SF Bay Guardian only mentions homelessness to use the issue to bash Newsom. 

The progressive supervisors in SF maintain a sullen silence on the issue. They seem to resent the fact that Mayor Newsom has actually had considerable success in dealing with an issue that they and their comrades in SF failed so dramatically to deal with before Care Not Cash in 2002 and Newsom's election in 2003.

Some numbers showing the city's progress in dealing with homelessness:

From the Office of The Mayor

DECEMBER 15, 2006

Moving Homeless Individuals off the Street
Since January 2004, the city has added 1,798 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless single adults, representing a 130% increase in a little less than three years. The total number of permanent supportive housing units for homeless single adults now on line is 3,182. Over this same period, the city has placed 2,590 homeless individuals into permanent supportive housing. Over the next number of years the City will continue to bring additional supportive units on line as there are 1,207 units of non-profit owned supportive housing currently under construction or in preconstruction planning. This is well ahead of pace to meet the target of 1,500 nonprofit-owned supportive housing units by 2014, as articulated in the City’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

Care Not Cash
The number of homeless individuals receiving cash welfare payments has dropped 87% from 2,497 in May 2004 to 333 today. We have placed 1,726 individuals in housing that we pay for by redirecting almost $15 million in city funds that we used to spend on cash assistance. Another 417 CNC clients have secured housing on their own. 95% of those who secured housing through CNC are either still in their housing or have moved on to better housing after securing employment or increasing their income through SSI.

Today, there are 93 seniors aged 60+ living in shelter on any given night, representing a 60%decline since 2004. Over the next 3 years, 166 units of permanent supportive housing will be built for chronically homeless seniors to help continue this significant downward trend.

This year I have allocated $3 million to launch our Housing First for Families initiative through a comprehensive eviction prevention and rental assistance effort that will help stabilize families before they enter the shelter system and will create more and faster exits from shelter for families who have no other option. In addition to this $3 million annual investment, over the next three years we will develop 138 units of housing for chronically homeless families.

Homeless Outreach Teams (HOT)
Since the outreach teams were launched in 2004, they have engaged over 530 homeless individuals (many of whom have been living on the streets for years), placing 420 of them off the streets and into services that will assist them in their transition to permanent housing. HOT was instrumental in our effort to assist homeless to move from Golden Gate Park into services and housing that they need to improve their lives. Since we launched our effort in Golden Gate Park, HOT has placed 83 individuals into temporary stabilization housing and has reunited another 35 with their friends or families through Homeward Bound.

Project Homeless Connect
We have taken over 1,500 individuals off the street into stabilization units or shelter.

Homeward Bound
Since its launch, 1,788 individuals have been reunited to friends or family in all 48 states in the continental U.S. at an average cost of about $147 per client. ($262,586 total cost of the program since Feb. 2005)

Expansion of Chronic Public Inebriate Housing
This Year, through a grant from HUD, the City’s Department of Public Health opened 62 units of permanent supportive housing for chronic alcoholics. This program targets individuals identified as chronic high-users of the Sobering Center and other systems of care, costing the City tens of thousands of dollars each year. The clients identified are placed into this housing on a voluntary basis, where they are allowed to continue to use alcohol and are actively case managed in an attempt to reduce their consumption.Other housing programs across the country have proven effective in targeting “chronic public inebriates” in an effort to reduce the costs associated with the over-use of public services, as well as improve individuals’ health outcomes. These programs, like ours, typically do not require the residents to limit their alcohol consumption or participate in services.

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