Sunday, December 21, 2008

C.W. Nevius does it again

The Chronicle's C.W. Nevius, like his colleague Kevin Fagan before him, has done more good for the city with his columns on homelessness than all the rest of the local media combined. Naturally many progressives hate him for it. John Murphy had this to say about Nevius in a comment on SF1st: "Nevius is quickly rising up to the point where he might actually challenge Rob Anderson on my shitlist. And that is really saying something."

High praise! Nice to know there's someone more hated than I am in the city. I'm on Murphy's "shitlist" because of the bike issue, and Nevius is on the list because of his columns on homelessness, which in effect demonstrate how clueless local progs continue to be on the issue.

Nevius's latest column on homelessness (S.F. blames out-of-towners for endless homeless problem) has been received by local chatboards and bloggers with nothing but silence, the implication being that if they ignore him maybe he'll go away and/or stop writing about the issue they badly botched before Gavin Newsom used it to become mayor. The column may have been ignored by local progs, but it has provoked a shitstorm of online reaction, with 675 comments the last time I looked.

Nevius's column is important because it asks a crucial question about the city's more or less successful homeless programs: Who are these people, and where are they coming from?

City officials are finally admitting what others have been saying for years: San Francisco is attracting huge numbers of homeless people from all over. Thousands of transient people, arriving from other counties, states and even countries, are overwhelming the city's homeless system. Facing a crippling budget shortfall, officials at San Francisco's homeless agencies are proposing a radical idea---take care of the city's own first, and require newcomers to show proof of residency for aid...A survey of 136 families taken this year by the Department of Human Services' Connecting Point program found that 63 percent were not from San Francisco..."People are coming from all over," [Dariush]Kayhan said. "I am seeing it firsthand. I often hear that this city or that city's homeless plan is a bus ticket to San Francisco."

The problem of an influx of derelicts was first posed in a Chronicle story way back in March, 2007. The only thing different now is the economic crisis forcing city officials to confront the problem.

The city's homeless policy director, Dariush Kayhan, talks about the numbers:

"Since January of 2004 (when Gavin Newsom took office), we have housed 5,186 homeless people," Kayhan said. "We have built close to 3,500 homeless units, with another 445 to be built next year. And we know that 90 percent of those we have put in housing stay housed."

Nevius also notes that the most successful city homeless program is Homeward Bound, which in the last year has put 800 homeless people on the bus to back from whence they came. Last November the official figure for the number of homeless folks bused out of the city was 2,503; the latest numbers bring the total up to 3,303 at a cost on average of $149 per ticket.

Nevius talked to Paul Boden---the Coalition on Homelessness won't talk to him anymore---who nicely represents the ongoing stupidity and denial of city progressives on the homeless issue:

"It's scapegoating," said Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. "We have a crisis, so let's batten down the hatches and close the door"...Boden, who says he's been an advocate for those without housing for about 26 years, says he isn't surprised to hear the city blame the newcomers. "This debate is as old as homelessness itself," he said. "Going back further, let's remember that Californians weren't crazy about the Okies (migrant workers from Oklahoma) during the Depression. What we need to remember is, these people are overwhelmingly American and 100 percent human beings."

Well, yes. These are American human beings that are coming from other American cities to San Francisco. Like a lot of city progs, Boden's assumption is that these are just poor people who can't afford housing. 

The difference between the migrants of the Depression and the city's derelicts is obvious to anyone not blinded by ideology---drugs and mental illness. Migrants to California during the Great Depression were simply looking for work and a better life; the current wave of migrants to SF is mostly people with serious mental health issues and/or drug and alcohol problems. Of course it's not a matter of "scapegoating" or blaming anyone. It's just common sense for the city to start screening the influx of down-and-outers and helping long-time city residents first.

The Controller's positive assessment of Care Not Cash.

The city's Ten Year Plan.

The Grand Jury's report on homelessness in SF.

Kevin Fagan's fine Chronicle series on homelessness in SF several years ago.

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At 8:11 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

In 1992 Hurricane Iniki wasted the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It was declared a Federal Disaster Area; thousands of people living there lost everything.

Professional homeless from the mainland who knew what "Disaster Area" meant began showing up. They knew that being on Kauai meant a free place to stay, free food, maybe even a little cash and no worries about working.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the scam factor can be significant. Back in 2004, when Care Not Cash went into effect, 1,000 people quickly vanished from the welfare rolls. The city promised a study to determine who they were and what happened to them, but it's apparently never happened. It's fair to say that a lot of these people were simply scamming the system to get cash payments.


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