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Monday, March 4, 2013

HOPE Expansion of Homeless Shelters in Bayview

Last Wednesday evening, neighbors and homeless advocates gathered at the Southeast Community Facility to discuss the Mayor's Office of Housing, Opportunity, Partnership, and Engagement's (HOPE) proposed shelter expansion at 2111 Jennings.  A second public meeting will be held Tuesday, March 4 at the monthly SFPD Bayview Captain's meeting at 201 Williams St.

At the meeting Wednesday night were representatives from local churches, Providence, Mother Brown's and many others who receive money from the city for their homeless programs, half-way house and drug rehab programs. Many of the shelters and half-way houses appeared to have encouraged those who rely on their services to come to give testimonials of support for the proposed 100 bed shelter.  Unfortunately, included in the crowd were several people who's sole purpose appeared to be to rile and intimidate, yelling invectives, disrupting proceedings, and throwing insults and the word "gentrification" out every time someone spoke up to voice anything other than full-throated approval of the proposal.

Prior to the start of the meeting, members of the Southeast Community Facility Commission praised HOPE Director Bevan Dufty and presented him with a cake for his birthday, showing what some in the room felt was bias towards him and his proposals from the outset.  Some at the meeting believed that it was all just a well orchestrated show, intended to be intimidating from the start for anyone who had questions, concerns or, heaven-forbid, opposed the new proposed shelter. 

For some reason, some people think that to question something means you are automatically adversaries to those who support it.  To think that there may not be good ideas from those who question a proposal is just plain idiocy.  However, to some in the room that seemed to be the tactic that ruled the evening.

That said, in amongst the noise were some very moving stories of people who have received help from Mother Brown's and others.

Some key points of interest that came out of the meeting:

- HOPE will be receiving $1 million to rehab the space adjacent to 2111 Jennings for the proposed shelter 
- The shelter has not yet been approved, the Board of Supervisors being needed to vote to approve the new shelter  
- If approved, the shelter's operating expenses would be incorporated into the city’s budget
- For those staying at the new proposed shelter there will be a 90 day limit for staying at the shelter, though they can request a 30 day extension. Some asked what happens after the 120 day max stay, the response was they can move to another shelter in the city and after a certain amount of time they can return for another possible 120 days.  It was mentioned that there is a woman who has been living at Mother Jones for 10 years, so would she be kicked out? 
- Bevan Dufty gave the crowd a 24-hour hotline, 415-734-4233, to report on a homeless person that you believe his office should check on.
Although I sent an email to Mr Dufty last week seeking information and comment from his office on this proposal, I have yet to hear anything in response.  I'll update this if I get anything from his office.

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