THE COALITION WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME OUR NEWEST STAFF MEMBERS
As many of you are already aware, we recently said farewell to the Lead Organizer of our Human Rights Workgroup, Bob Offer-Westort. Besides this most recent position at the Coalition, he has served as Finance Coordinator, Development Coordinator and Street Sheet Editor. We wish Bob the best of luck in his new position as Campaign Coordinator for Stand Up For The Right To Sit Down in Berkeley.
Bob’s successor as Human Rights Lead Organizer is John Gallagher whom you see pictured below.
Prior to joining the staff of the Coalition, John served as a volunteer working with Citation Defense.
We would also like to welcome two more staff members. Joining the Coalition as Peer Organizers are Irma Numez and Julia D’Antonio. The peer organizers work closely with both the Housing Justice Workgroup and our partner organization, SRO Families United.
Welcome to all our new family members.
When it comes to the shelter reservation system in San Francisco, this might seem like an impossible dream, more delusion than imagination. However, for the past several months, that’s exactly what the Shelter Access Workgroup, SAW, has been doing.
San Francisco’s current shelter reservation system is an unmitigated disaster. It is complicated, inefficient and inconsistent. After waiting in lines for hours – or possibly days – homeless people are regularly turned away despite the fact the city reports vacant beds each night. They line up at resource centers hours before the 7AM opening – many arriving the night before – to be first in line for a chance at a 90-day reservation. Very few actually get one. Their only choice, if they want a place to sleep that night, is to spend most of the remainder of the day waiting in still more lines for a chance at a one night bed.
Adding to the frustration, CHANGES, the Human Service Agency’s computer system that books reservations for all city funded shelters, is notoriously unreliable. It regularly drops reservations. It is not uncommon for a person to receive a reservation and less than an hour later be turned away by the shelter, reservation in hand, because their bed has been given to someone else. It reports no vacancies when in fact there are then alternately overbooks beds when no vacancies exist. These are examples of what happens when the system is working. Often, no reservations can be made because CHANGES is down altogether. Read More
From Streatfood in SOMA
Street Food in the Tenderloin
Since his appointment as Director of the Mayor’s office of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships, and Engagement, or HOPE, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty has rarely been accused of thinking inside the politically acceptable box. In fact, many of his proposals push the envelope and challenge many of the tired, off-the-rack schemes that many of our tired, off-the-rack politicians drag out every few years – usually around election time – and try to re-sell.
First, there was wet housing for chronic alcoholics. This proposal was bound to baffle the local policy makers simply because it has a proven, successful track record. In Seattle, the program has saved the city millions in emergency medical care and police response, and has put many of the people it serves on the road to recovery and productive lives. Read More
The Coalition on Homelessness has learned that there has been a policy change at Traffic Court effecting people receiving tickets for “Quality of Life” infractions – Jaywalking, Open Container, Camping, Sit/Lie, etc. – and have missed court dates, allowing their tickets to go to warrant.
SF Traffic Court will no longer set court dates for cases in which warrants have been issued.
According to Traffic Court Clerk Supervisor, Janette Santos (415) 551-8502, in order to set a new court date, the person must pay the full amount of the original fine. If they are unable to pay the fine, they must go to jail in order to see a judge. This means that poor people will go to jail having never been convicted of a crime.
It is the opinion of the Coalition on Homelessness that issuing warrants and incarcerating poor people simply for being poor solves nothing and is likely unlawful. We will continue our efforts to remedy this and other policies that unfairly target an already marginalized population.
If you receive a citation while this unjust policy is in effect, you must either pay the fine or come to the Coalition on Homelessness before your ticket go to warrant so we can assist you in getting it discharged. Citation defense hours are Monday and Wednesday from 10 to Noon.
After a warrant is issued, these citations cannot be discharged.
Policy does not include MUNI violations.
COH cannot assist with tickets issued by MUNI fare inspectors.
If you receive a MUNI violation, go to their office located at 11 S. Van Ness
By: Bob Offer-Westort
The San Francisco Police Commission is perhaps the most underestimated body in City government. When there’s a proposed policy change around policing—say, for example, Mayor Lee’s recently abandoned stop-and-frisk proposal—the tendency of many San Franciscans is to rally at the Board of Supervisors. San Franciscans have rallied at the Board of Supervisors in support of foot patrols. They’ve rallied against stop and frisk. They’ve rallied for more humane policies in dealing with people in psychiatric crisis. Intuitively, this makes sense: The Board of Supervisors is our legislature. Legislatures make laws, rules. Surely they can set policies for the Police Department?
But this is incorrect: Policing policy in San Francisco is the exclusive domain of the Police Commission. The Board of Supervisors has some influence: They control a portion of the Police Department’s budget, and Board members can introduce ballot measures which, if approved by the voters, would apply to the Police Department. But for most purposes, it is the Police Commission which decides. Read More
By: Ian Smith
There has been a lot of commotion in my life lately. All of it due to the fact I was, as of Tuesday, a resident of the homeless encampment located on Caltrans property at Fifth and King St. Life was gravy……
“I’d wake up in the morning and extricate myself from my makeshift “Conestoga style wagon”, shoot up a big ol’ syringe of methamphetamine, terrorize a few locals by offering them a slug of liquor out of a wet paper bag after which a few of the neighbors and myself would get together and play “used-needle darts”, gambling for cigarettes while shirt-less barefoot children run through the broken glass and needle strewn line of fire. Then we’d see what we had left for breakfast in our bucket o’ dead rats located right next to our openly aired toilets. mmm Good!”
……This is the way they would like you to think of us apparently. The only problem is it is the farthest thing from the truth and it is not your fault for thinking any differently. This is the image the media you rely upon to give you the truth in the stories they report portrayed of us. Well, to put it in the manner of Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules in the movie “Pulp Fiction”, ‘Are you finished? Well allow me to retort!’. You do not have to be a genius to perceive the narrow minded view the writer of “Big SoMa Homeless Camp Cleaned Out” Kevin Fagen has toward the homeless. (as seen on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle) It’s much like many of the people online who posted comments with brilliant gems like “ Lock em up forever”. Wow. Intelligent. That lock ‘em up attitude reminiscent of anything? I am floored people in this day and age can even begin to nurture a philosophy as bent as that. So let’s use me as an example. Let us put my head on the proverbial chopping block. I don’t have a criminal record and would have no involvement with law enforcement if I did not live on the streets. I know many who are of the same “ilk”. What are you going to lock us up for? Not being able to afford outlandish San Francisco rent prices? Being told we are “over-qualified” for the majority of the jobs we apply for and very seldom get? Not having the ability to clean up or maintain an orderly appearance to be able to find work in the first place? Oh I know! Not having computers or electricity to power them with in order to be able to apply for jobs online, which is the only way you can apply anymore. That’s an arrestable offense right? Please. If I had received one offer, one promise of a job no matter what it was out of the literally hundreds for which I had applied, I would not be here today. Read More
Early last week, the Coalition on Homelessness learned of the planned sweep of a homeless camp near the Cal Train station at 4th and King.
Tucked beneath an overpass on the 280 Freeway just east of the Sixth Street ramps, the residents of this community of around 40 people have lived peacefully alongside their housed neighbors for years. The camp consisted of approximately 15 tents, several mobile structures, and a few cars and other vehicles. The encampment was located near Cal Train’s northern terminus and the inbound terminus of the N-Judah line only two blocks from AT&T Park; tens of thousands of visitors and commuters have passed by or over daily without giving it much thought. That’s exactly how the folks living there wanted it. Read More