Why is it so hard to get disabled seniors into hotel rooms?

The saga of one man in the Haight shows the dysfunction of the Breed Administration's programs.

The problems with the Breed Administration’s approach to homelessness and the COVID crisis go beyond the obvious issues of hotel rooms and street encampments.They go to the issues of basic competence.

Ask Christin Evans, who runs Booksmith, a store on Haight Street.

Evans found herself last weekend trying to help a disabled, senior,homeless person – and ran into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Here’s how she described it:


Evans met Cuba when a city worker asked her to deliver him a tent. She asked why he was on the streets, and he told her that they had moved him to a hotel where his wheelchair didn’t fit through the door.

So now he was back out on the streets.

Evans, who is sophisticated at working the city bureaucracy, started making calls. Perhaps because it was Memorial Day weekend, she got nowhere:

“Calls to 311 were sent to the Homeless Outreach Team. She called that number several times; nobody ever answered, and she was told to leave a message – but the voicemail box was full.”

Next, she said, “I tried the Street Medicine Team. A nurse answered the phone but said she had only one other nurse on outreach – and they would not be able to refer someone to a hotel, only HOT could do that.”

Finally, she reached a doctor who worked with homeless people – but he said he didn’t have the authority to send Cuba to a hotel. Someone else had to do that – but nobody with the authority could be reached.

Evans is persistent: When a lot of people would have given up, she kept going. She met with Cuba and made more calls, pushing her way up the ladder at the Department of Homeness and Supportive Housing.

It took five days. Five days this vulnerable 70-year-old was on the streets when he should have been in a hotel room.

And it only happened because one person who had the time, the ability, and the patience pushed the case over and over until the city finally responded.

Think about all of the hundreds of others who are in his position and are still on the streets.

Her message to the mayor:

“If you are listening, your city system is broken (1,000 vacant hotel rooms!) Because Cuba is 70 years old, living through a pandemic, and there is no excuse why he shouldn’t be inside. We must do better.”