San Francisco group calls for more attention to
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
April 14, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The community group Coalition on
Homelessness declared a "state of emergency" Thursday
to call attention to the needs of homeless families in the development
of housing and homeless policies in San Francisco.
The city is taking too narrow a view of homelessness by focusing
so intently on assisting the "chronically homeless,"
according to Juan Prada, executive director of Coalition on Homelessness.
Coalition on Homelessness called on the city to increase funding
for eviction prevention, create additional housing subsidies for
families, and reserve for families 25 percent of the 3,000 housing
units of permanent housing promised to the chronically homeless
in "Changing Direction," the city's blueprint for ending
"Changing Direction" calls for San Francisco to prioritize
assisting the estimated 3,000 chronically homeless people in the
city before other populations of homeless people "because
the chronically homeless are the most in need, they consume the
lion's share of dedicated resources and, if their needs are met,
the city will save money. The money we save can then be redirected
to the remaining general homeless population," the report
The city has focused its efforts on helping the very visible
population of chronically homeless who live on the street, and
who tend to have mental health or substance abuse problems, Prada
said, at the expense of the city's homeless families.
The lack of assistance for low-income and homeless families is
driving children and families from San Francisco, according to
Homeless Connect, an initiative by San Francisco Mayor Gavin
Newsom that had its 10th event Thursday, serves mostly the single,
adult, male homeless population, Prada said.
A lack of affordable housing is one of the root causes of homelessness
in San Francisco, said Maxine Pauson, who used to be homeless
with her son, who is now 16. Homeless families are at a disadvantage
when it comes to finding affordable housing in San Francisco because
some affordable housing options do not accept people with children,
Coalition on Homelessness also called on city officials to adjust
the way in which they count the number of homeless families in
Homeless families should be considered for housing help not only
if they live on the streets or in homeless shelters, but also
if they live in single room occupancy hotels, or in unsanitary
conditions, Prada said.
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