Tents and the homeless wait list

More than 1,000 people on the wait list for shelter -- and we are going to take away tents?

You have probably notice that it’s cold and rainy out. For a lot of us, that means waterproof coats and boots. And staying inside.

At least tents keep people dry.
At least tents keep people dry.

The mayor and the voters who approved Prop. Q want to roust people living in tents. But at least the people in the tents won’t get sick or die of exposure; at least they are out of the rain. They are supposed to accept city shelter instead (they get one night guaranteed), but let’s take a look at the cold, hard numbers, thanks to Jennifer Friedenbach at the Coalition for Homelessness:

As of December 15, there were more than 1,000 people on the waiting list for shelter. These are people who want to get out of the cold, who would take a warm bed if it were available – but it’s not.

As she noted:

The shelter wait list in San Francisco has now surpassed 1,000 people. There are 1,009 waiting for a 90-day single adult shelter bed. If someone misses curfew, or if one of the shelter beds is set aside for a special population such as Care Not Cash, the bed is offered for one night only, usually released late at night. Those on the wait list may try their luck for a one-night bed, or find a friend or family member to let them stay, or find a place on the cold streets or wet parks. Those on the street or in parks are rousted frequently and often given tickets for being destitute.

The numbers make me want to cry – and the data they include is even worse. Of the 22 people at the very end of the list – the ones who have to wait until 988 other people are housed before they get a bed – half are more than 50 years old. Five are older than 60.

(Check out the waitlist here.)

We’re talking seniors here, people who are most at risk for exposure-related diseases, spending the night in the cold rain.

I know that tents aren’t a solution to homelessness, and I know that we need to do all sorts of things we don’t choose to spend money on now, and we will have even more trouble spending money on when Trump starts slicing our federal funding.

But seriously: You want to take away a tent when it’s cold and rainy out?

As John Burton said to Scott Wiener: Go to the butcher shop and buy yourself a heart.

66 COMMENTS

  1. ROTFL! I’ve traveled quite a bit. Orange County has quite a number of homeless, and is in the process of building a new shelter. Dallas has homeless living on the streets. The did clear a large tent encampment, by moving those willing to go into housing. They also are putting people in “tiny houses,” which s an innovative approach. And I came to San Francisco from Birmingham, AL, which has quite a few homeless. No, I am quite familiar with the facts, and can see through right wing fantasies. Most places deal with the needs of the homeless. Here they are used as a political football. Actually helping them is not a priority.

  2. I guess that famous liberal bubble is nice and comfortable (assuming a homeless tweaker doesn’t punch you in the face and take your iPhone), and that you haven’t travelled too much. Go down to Orange county and try to sleep in the streets. Or in Dallas. Or just about anywhere else other than SeattleSanFranciscoNewYork. A rude awakening awaits you.

  3. Yes, they are. Do you really think that a city can legally say to someone, “You are not welcome here, now leave.”? They can’t. There are some very narrow situations where a person’s freedom to live somewhere can be restricted.” For example, a restraining order, or if someone is on parole or probation, they can be restricted to a certain area for the duration of the time they are under supervision, but other than that, no, as long as they are not trespassing on private property, they cannot be denied the right to be in a given place. I don’t care how badly you want it, you can’t decide who is worthy to live in a location.

  4. Oh dear, I seem to have hit a nerve… A bigot is someone who hates a group of people because of some characteristic that distinguishes that group, whether it be race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or status. I think that fits more than a few quite well. And actually, I have studied constitutional law, and received excellent grades. You seem to think that the President is a dictator, who can decree things. He can’t. The courts have regularly restrained authorities from abusing the homeless and poor. They are very likely to do so in the future.

    People are entitled to live where they want to. Sorry, but you cannot close off a city. You can have a gated community, but not a gated city. And that includes San Francisco. And we provide public housing, just not enough of it. And yes, of course people are entitled to not be robbed or killed.

    And seriously, if you think “anyone” can get a job, you are delusional. Even if one has the skills to program, it become near impossible to find work if one is over 30, and much older, it is completely impossible. Other jobs are also hard to find for older people. And if one is identified as homeless, finding work is even harder. For no reason other than pure bigotry. That, and the fact that such discrimination is legal. And even if they do find work, obtaining housing can be impossible if they have, for example, been evicted because they lost a job.

    But, as I pointed out, you seem to think they just decide to be homeless. And if you remotely think that being homeless is pleasant, or glamorous, then you sir, are truly ignorant.

    And, unless that can be proven, by due process of law, to be a danger to themselves, or others, you cannot legally commit someone who is schizophrenic, nor can you force them to accept treatment.

    And no, one again, I am not Jennifer Friedenbach. And I don’t know where you get that she is the “Queen of the Homeless Industrial Complex of San Francisco.” She does not make a huge salary (she is actually paid the same as other employees of the Coalition who have children), the Coalition does not receive public funding, and she actually lives quite modestly, with her husband in a house they own in the Mission. You might try to actually learn some facts.

  5. Insulting your way up and down this thread won’t strengthen your argument. Clearly, you have no idea what a bigot it. Even I can tell that and English is my third language. In addition to bulking up your vocabulary, you might want to study up on what is constitutional law, what is law, what is judicial precedent, what is department practice and what is wishful thinking. People are not entitled to living in San Francisco. People are not entitled to a house. People are entitled not to be robbed, or killed. Positive rights (or opposable rights, or the right to free stuff as they are sometimes known) are still mostly a fantasy in the mind of European intellectuals, and certainly not the law in this country. And at this point, we are at least two more decades off from these ideas becoming a twisted interpretation of our Constitution, thank God. So no – not human rights. Finally, yes there are plenty of homeless by choice – why? Because at this point in time, anyone can get a job and share a studio with a roommate somewhere in the East Bay. But that requires working, and a lifestyle that is not particularly pleasant or glamorous. The only exception are the schizophrenic patients that roam our streets. They should be committed, medicated and assisted because they have no other options. Thinking more about it, I am going to guess that you *are* none other than the Queen of the Homeless Industrial Complex of San Francisco herself, Ms Friedenbach.

  6. Fortunately, your user name is a bit of a misnomer. The Justice Department doesn’t “make up rules.” They offer opinions on what the law is. Like any number of fascist wannabes you forget that the Judiciary interprets the laws. Trump can’t do a damned thing about that. He can have his Justice Department argue that things should be a certain way, but the courts may well, and probably will, disagree. The City, no matter how much Ed Lee and the fascist wannabes, want, cannot violate human rights. BTW, Jennifer Friedenbach’s salary is paid by donations to the Coalition on Homelessness, not from public funds. There is NOTHING you can do about that. And that money you claim is being “pissed” away is largely required by Federal law. Very little is actually spent on helping people. It goes to people like Randy Shaw, who is being rewarded for doing puff pieces on Ed Lee. And seriously, homeless by choice? Do you REALLY expect us to believe that huge numbers of people awake one morning and say to themselves, “Oh joy! Today I start my new life as a homeless person! I can’t wait to sleep on sidewalks, and stop bathing, and be hated by a bunch of bigots, and be at risk constantly. I can hardly wait!” Seriously? Do you REALLY think anyone with a shred of intelligence is going to buy such an absurd fantasy? Given the diversity of human thought, you might find a very tiny number of people who think like that, and who are not mentally ill, but I seriously doubt it. So please, excuse those with good sense who think you are simply full of crap.

  7. That is, the Obama Justice Department made up some idiotic rule. That rule will undoubtedly be overturned by a more moderate Justice Department, let alone Jeff Session’s Justice Department. So yeah, that’s true for another couple of weeks. Back in reality, the City is not required to let anyone sleep on the streets, and can and often should, make prevent and discourage people from doing so. In an economy with sub-4% unemployment, there is no excuse. Unless, of course, you are mentally ill. And that is where *all of the money* we’re currently pissing away on the homeless by choice, the tweakers on 16th streets, the people who pay Jennifer Friedenbach’s salary – should be directed.

  8. Ah, the straw man argument, the favored refuge of the so-called moderates. Lee has claimed that San Francisco is booming while avoiding the issue of income disparity. I guess he is the mayor for only the wealthy.

  9. As if Ed Lee is going to explain the methodology of Bureau of Labor statistics every time he quotes them. You’re quite the pedantic, pompous ass.

  10. Actually, it is the current Attorney General. And who replaces her is irrelevant. It will most likely go before the courts, and they will likely rule in favor of the homeless. It is a very solid argument to all except bigots.

  11. That was Holder’s JD. It remains to be seen what Sessions JD would do. So the courts may not get involved at all.

    And if the City bought up some cheap housing elsewhere (Bakersfield? Reno?), and “offered” that – no matter how undesirable, then there is no complaint.

  12. Actually, on that second point, the law is not as simple. The Justice Department has said that going after people living on sidewalks is questionable IF there is not sufficient available housing and shelter. So, it would be up to the courts.

  13. A fact that is completely lost on a number of people. Unfortunately, it is also lost on people that people will not accept assistance that comes with a lot of abuse.

  14. It is not simply citing them. It is trumpeting them as though he single handedly has brought prosperity to the City. The real truth is that we have very rich people, and very poor people, and very few in between. This is NOT a good situation, and it is not just the homeless who are suffering.

  15. If they just take the stuff, then the City should be vulnerable to lawsuits. The Bill of Rights makes it clear that a person cannot be deprived of property without due process of law. I know in the past, they have done some pretty nasty stuff, like taking medical equipment and medications and trashing it. I suspect the City is quietly settling those cases to avoid some really bad publicity.

  16. Last year City Hall set up a temporary shelter that protected over a hundreds of people. Have they done that yet? It is freezing out there. Occupying the empty units would work too.

  17. But then their confiscated stuff gets to be stored by the City for 3 mths. That’s a better deal that currently. Currently, as in they don’t have to offer “shelter” – they just kick you to the curb and grab your stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong. Terrible law. Just sayin’.

  18. There is no reliable metric for determining how many people would take work if they had more ‘hope’ (of better wages, better jobs, etc). Of course that’s going to be a pretty elastic number if it were ever established.

    But I do think you were a bit overboard blaming Lee for citing the only stats that are available. And given that there are about a half million jobs in SF now, 4000 unemployed, unjailed homeless is less that 1% of that new Unemployment rate, if that. And is it fair to count the 29% who came here homeless AND unemployed from somewhere else?

    So given the otherwise good numbers – if only in comparison to other times using the same metric – I don’t see where Lee can be particularly held accountable for the misfortunes of the homeless.

  19. There is a rather lengthy report detailing how they came up with that figure. I agree, it probably low for several reasons. The simple fact is, Lee is dragging his feet on creating shelter beds.

  20. He focused on the unions in particular, which was pretty lame as excuses go. I mean Kennedy is basically offering the City a gift, which would save the City $580 a month. It should be fast-tracked, but again, the homeless are too valuable as a wedge issue.

  21. I believe that 6K count is of those who are actually on the streets at any one time. One of the reasons I always argue that the actual number is likely triple the official count is because no one counts those in their vehicles, couch-diving, staying in spare bedrooms, garages, etc.

  22. Here’s what the article said:

    Kennedy doesn’t have the mayor. He doesn’t have the homeless activists and their allied politicians. He doesn’t have the construction unions or the lawmakers who often do their bidding.

    So it is a complicated issue that many groups have questions about.

    The think you lied about is when you said:

    Ed Lee quickly came up with excuse why it can’t be done.

    If you don’t like being called a liar there is an easy remedy. Just tell us what the excuse that Ed Lee quickly came up with was.

  23. In the second article you cite, it say “So, to recap: Kennedy doesn’t have the mayor.” I guess you might want to read stuff before posting. Hoist by your own petard.

  24. Jobs in other parts of the Bay Area, or such do nothing for people who have no resources to move and relocate. I seriously doubt the they would receive relocation assistance like the tech companies offer.

  25. See, there you go again with the lame straw man arguments. But then that’s all you have. You try to bully me into silence, and then you try using straw man arguments because you cannot refute facts. I never said Lee was trying to hide that people had given up finding work. He is simply ignoring that as he touts the tech boom. And I sail Lee is responsible for how he USES the figures. He points out what suits him and ignores the real suffering of a lot of citizens.

  26. OK, Geek__Girl , you win. Ed Lee indeed HAS “has cooked the unemployment figures to hide the people have given up trying to find a job” as you said. I was mistaken when I said that The United States Department Of Labor supplies those figures and determines the methodology involved.

    You are correct that Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco is responsible for how unemployment figures in the United States are calculated.

    Thanks!

  27. Why is it, that the best Lee’s people can come up with is straw man arguments? Oh well, I guess you can’t keep up.

  28. It’s OK @Geek__Girl:disqus . I know that Ed Lee does use the official figures compiled by The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I also understand that you don’t agree with the way that the Federal government calculates those figures.

    I was just trying to make sure that you were lying when you said that Ed Lee “cooks the books” when in reality he uses the official figures provided by the Federal government.

    Again, thanks for the clarification.

  29. Do try to keep up. Ed Lee has touted those figures, knowing they were not the whole picture, to make it look like he has done wonders i San Francisco. He has created an illusion that some are quick to buy into, even if they know they are false. So, your effort to create a straw man argument is typical of Lee’s supporters, but is also terribly lame.

  30. OK, thanks. So your claim that Ed Lee “cooked the books” isn’t true at all.

    You just don’t like the way that the Dept of Labor Statistics calculates the numbers and you blamed Ed Lee for their methodology..

    That’s what I initially thought; thanks for the clarification.

  31. Lee has constantly touted how low unemployment is in San Francisco. Those claims are based on figures that ignore the number of people who have given up trying to find a job and who have exhausted unemployment benefits. The numbers are falsely inflated with new workers who have come here for tech jobs, and ignores people who already live here.

  32. Lee has cooked the unemployment figures to hide the people who can’t find work

    Really?

    Ed Lee is responsible for determining the unemployment figures??

    When did the US Bureau of Labor Statistics turn over that responsibility to Ed Lee? It hasn’t been reported anywhere.

  33. But Ed Lee quickly came up with excuse why it can’t be done.

    Really?

    It would be good practice to provide some type of link or reference when you make a claim like that. Otherwise it comes off as something that you may believe to be true but actually has little or no relationship to reality.

    For example, here is a Chronicle article. It says that a main problem is that the unions are balking at the China based units and that Jeff Kositsky doesn’t think that they should be built on public land but is open to a master lease:

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Tiny-living-spaces-for-SF-homeless-desired-but-9229640.php

    And here is a story from Forbes saying that Lee likes the idea but that a non-profit has objected:

    http://modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/think-small

    So I’ve poked around but can’t find a single article indicating that you didn’t just make up that claim about Lee. What am I missing? Thanks.

  34. SF has been losing working class and middle class jobs for decades to other parts of the Bay Area, the State and the nation. There may be jobs some homeless can qualify for in other locations. This may not help the chronic homeless but there are many who are temporarily homeless who could get hired.

  35. No, the way the law is actually written, they have to offer “shelter.” That can be a shelter bed, for one night, or a bus ticket. The person does not have to accept it. It was a cynical, rather hateful, and deceptive law.

  36. Well, some of those 5,000 are couch surfing, and those figures also include some who are in hotels and such. But, I imagine a big part of the problem is that many of them don’t see any hope of getting shelter. Remember, every time someone gets a 90 day bed, someone else is back on the streets, and back to the bottom of the list. The only sure way to get a guaranteed bed is to sign up for County Adult Assistance Programs. You get up to about $73, and a bed at one of the shelters. But, if you are able, you have to do 8 hours a week of very hard labor. And regardless, you have to go in once a month to prove you are still homeless and still living in San Francisco. And the process to get CAAP takes a month or two, so it is not a quick solution for most.

  37. What work? Lee has cooked the unemployment figures to hide the people who can’t find work and who have given up.

  38. Or, as I refer to it, “Gavin’s Than God, and Greyhound You’re Gone” program. It is not that good. There are a lot of restrictions, they don’t allow people to take pets, and they only provide $10 a day for food.

  39. But Ed Lee quickly came up with excuse why it can’t be done. Ed Lee and the rest of the so-called “moderates” don’t want the homeless housed.

  40. That’s good but there can be additional programs to help them find a job or someplace less expensive to live. According to that survey, which is questionable, 29% said they came to SF looking for work. Helping them find work would make a big dent in the problem.

  41. I was under the impression they can’t confiscate a tent unless there’s an open shelter bed available. No?

  42. Could you check the ages of the people on the wait list again? I see there are over 130 people over the age of 60 on the list, and 5 persons who are reported as older than 80, based on the “dob” column.

  43. Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests proposed building micro units in San Francisco which include their own kitchenette and bathroom to help get the homeless out of tents and into permanent, supportive housing. I toured the micropad last month – it was very nice, much nicer than most SRO units I’ve seen, and Kennedy proposes master leasing them for about $1,000 per unit, per month, a price well below the San Francisco Housing Authority’s payment standard of $1580 for an SRO unit.

  44. What about offering them relocation assistance? Maybe they can find jobs and cheaper housing someplace else.

  45. Well considering there are over 6,000 homeless on our sidewalks, I’m surprised there are only 1,000 on the waiting list. Sounds like 1,000 want help / shelter. What do we do about the other 5,000?

  46. With respect to Burton, what Weiner should do at the butcher shop is have himself carved up into steaks.

  47. It is terrible. Most of the American homeless are vets. This is why Trump was elected, because he wants to help vets. I hope he does something about this problem. They need homes.