SF Social Services looks for a solution for homelessness in a “modified payment plan,” in which the people pay $250 to $275 a month for a room rented for extended periods rather than a few days at a time. The Manager of Social Services highlights that long term housing and not temporary housing is the key to this goal.
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More Long-Term Housing Optimistic Report on Homeless
San Francisco’s Department of Social Services issued a hopeful report yesterday on attempts to move the city’s homeless into long-term, or even permanent places to live.
“We intend to move away from short-term, emergency housing to permanent housing for the homeless,” said Julia Lopez, general manager of the Social Services Department.
Lopez made her optimistic progress report at a press conference yesterday in response to a demonstration and rally by about 50 representatives of the Homeless Task Force and the North of Market Planning Coalition. The groups were protesting the problems of obtaining decent shelter from the city.
The small rally began at the Department of Social Services office on Otis Street at 8 a.m. The demonstrators then marched to City Hall, where they were fed by Food Not Bombs, a group that feeds the poor.
Lopez told reporters that for years the city has provided nightly rooms for about 2,500 homeless persons, including about 100 families, in 40 low-rent hotels and a few shelters.
“But that’s all we’ve done, given them a place to stay,” said Lopez. She said her department has become “an institutionalized place where people come for housing.”
“The key is does the city have a rational response to the problem or do we just keep throwing money at it night after night?” said Lopez, whose department spends $6 million a year on housing and support services for the homeless.
Her answer is to involve homeless people in a “modified payment plan,” in which the homeless would pay $250 to $275 a month for a room rented for extended periods rather than a few days at a time.
“We think that when people have a permanent place to stay, they then take better care of it,” she said, citing the Camelot Hotel in the Tenderloin as a model. “It is an excellent example. The people who live there are proud to call it home.”
She said about 300 formerly homeless persons are currently renting rooms in the Tenderloin hotels on a long term basis, and she hopes to eventually increase that to 1,000.
No one knows how many homeless people there are in San Francisco, but some experts estimate the number at about 6,000.
“Although emergency shelter and other short-term services are still needed, in the past 10 months we have taken important steps toward establishing programs that provide stable, permanent housing and offer job training and related services,” said Lopez.
“Our goal is to help people get back on their feet, and to develop permanent alternatives to the streets,” she said.