Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The "Million Dollar Murray" problem persists

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see this hed on a story in last week's Examiner: "Small group of vagrants costs San Francisco $20M." It's the same old Million Dollar Murray problem that Malcolm Gladwell wrote so well about in the New Yorker back in 2006 and C.W. Nevius wrote about two years ago, when he reported that in SF an ambulance trip to a hospital emergency room costs $1,500. With some skepticism he described a new city policy to deal with chronic drunks. In fact the city's Ten Year Plan on homelessness also found that a small minority of the chronically homeless cost taxpayers the most and getting them off the street quickly is the best way to deal with the problem. Easier said than done, as it turns out, though not all chronic drunks are homeless.

Nevius tells us how the Fire Department, the Public Health Department, and a "sobering center" were all involved in that policy, which is probably why a simple trip in an ambulance costs $1,500. How many city employees does it take to get a single drunk off city streets? Quite a few, apparently, and they all have to get their tickets punched and paid for the effort, as the "old problems endure."

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At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in worst part of SOMA and know some of these guys and would not say they are homeless, but rather street people. You have heard this before but the guys (and some women) that I recognize and know)are on the street because they cannot drink (or do drugs in cases) in shelters during the night nor would their behavior be tolerated in SROs. While I suspect there is hope for say 5% with rigid intervention which, by the way is not allowed, most will end up dead. Sad to say but true. What galls me is that members of the progressive community seemly enable their behavior. Panhandling for cash is enabling them to buy there booze or drug of choice. Then crashing out on the street and not enforcing sit lie is enabling them to dream and sleep it off. Then they are at it again. The guy who recycles our recycle is a sweet guy, intelligent man with a British accent. He admitted to me he has made mistakes in life, his choices he calls them. I have watched him slowing wearing himself out...his drug of choice is harder stuff. He takes his bottle and cans to guys on pickup trucks that cruise the area and (get this)he tells me they "pay" him with drugs. SOMEONE please tell me it is not true, but he told me that.


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