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Anybody want to guess what the number one issue in the coming mayor’s race will be?

Just think of the mayoral election four years ago… and four years before that… and four years before that…

We’re willing to bet it will once again be homelessness.

For the last four mayoral election cycles it has been homelessness. But in the last four presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races the issue never comes up.

Homelessness is a crisis. Apparently, it is a crisis our state and federal government feels no accountability for creating, nor any responsibility for addressing.

Massive cuts to education and treatment… and we’re building more prisons. Massive cuts to affordable housing production… and tax credits and mortgage interest deductions go up.

The feds are on Orange Alert and received supplemental funding expenditures for the Pentagon. In the name of Homeland Security, they are funding more cops, but with the tax cuts, the money’s got to come from health and human services.


Why would the state and federal government abandon us like this?

Because we allow them to. Over the past 16 years, in spite of the fact that many San Francisco politicians have moved on to state and federal offices, we have been bombarded with local politicians claiming to be the one and only leader who can take us through this crisis.

These folks gave us the Hotline Hotel Program, the Multi-Service Centers, Centralized Intake (for families), Beyond Shelter, F.R.E.D., C.A.A.P., Coordinated Intake (for treatment), Drop-In Centers, Resource Centers, M.A.P., M.O.S.T., C.H.A.N.G.E.S., Coordinated Referral (for single adults), Managed Care, D.A.H., Modified Payments, SF CARES, Care Not Cash, H.O.M.E.T.E.A.M., Real Housing Real Care, and (unbelievable as it may seem) SF CARES (as if no one noticed the first time).

Anyone care to hazard a guess why San Francisco’s Homeless Program is so fucked up?

We don’t HAVE a plan. What we do have is a cumulative amalgamation of short-sighted, reactionary, crisis-driven proposals from politically- motivated (even the wellintended) individuals seeking elected office.

They speak of their empathy, their compassion, of their research and “many” hours of study, of their travels to far-off cities (usually New York), of their ability to lead, and of their personal experiences with a real, live homeless person or two.

They bombard us with TV commercials, billboards and bus signs. We see a crisis around us and we witness an individual with great resources eager to lead. We make a tragic mistake. We fall for it — another snake oil salesman with wealth and exposure gains office, and the crisis of poverty gets worse.

In a crisis, we must ALL do something.

We urge you to look for the plan that, after sixteen years of going it alone, draws our state and federal representatives into addressing this crisis with us. We urge you to reject the current campaign of dehumanizing homeless people as diseasespreading, small business-destroying pariahs, and instead recognize us as the human beings we are.

We urge you to get informed or stay out of the debate. We especially urge those with wealth and power to stop politicizing our existence for your gain — you’re killing hundreds of us each year.

San Francisco needs… no, in our current crisis San Francisco must create a Community Plan to address homelessness. A Plan where we can hold all levels of government accountable to work with us to address an issue that affects us.

We can no longer afford to fight over who has the best snow shovel. It’s time we went up the mountain to see what’s causing the avalanche.


Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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