One of the city’s largest shelters, A Man’s Place, is set to close its doors at the end of June, along with South Beach Drop-in Center and Fremont Place, the medically supported detox program. Each of these programs is housed in a Catholic church-owned property set to be sold, torn down, and rebuilt as condominiums.
Fremont Place is an incredibly important program the Coalition on Homelessness fought to have established several years ago. It serves medically fragile homeless people in need of detox services, and has been very successful in moving people off the streets, and forward with a healthier bodies and souls. The people it serves would likely die—added as yet another homeless death statistic—if the program no longer exists. We have been informed that this program will continue at another Baker Places site. The Coalition does not want to see any disruption or decrease in service.
A Man’s Place is a “low threshold” shelter originally designed by the Department of Public Health. It is an all-male shelter that tends to serve more medically fragile homeless people. There are beds set aside for veterans, medical respite, and pre-treatment clients. The shelter is now under Department of Human Services, who have promised a “gentle” shut down.
We can only hope this closing goes a little better then Mission Rock, where almost everyone was kicked out of the shelter for arbitrary reasons prior to the closing, and then when there was only a handful of people left, the city found housing for them. “Everyone was offered housing” they claimed!
The housing of course was mostly at the Mission Hotel, where the owners did a bunch of evictions ahead of time to make room for the city-sanctioned ex-Mission Rock residents. The shelter held the clients’ property without tagging it, all the valuable items were stolen by staff, clients lost their worldly possessions, and oh what a mess it all was.
Mission Rock was run by CATS, the same agency who runs A Man’s Place. Many past lessons should be learned, and hopefully this mess will not be repeated with A Man’s Place. Careful planning is a must, and each resident’s unique needs must be accommodated.
We hope and demand that the City follow their rhetoric of moving people and funding from shelter to permanent housing. This means funding for shelter would move to housing homeless people. This must be a 1 for 1 replacement-every shelter bed lost must be replaced by one permanent housing unit.
Since the Department of Human Services (AKA by poor folk as the Department of Inhumane Services) has started considering chairs in a drop-in center to be shelter, there must also be one permanent housing unit for every chair lost! This housing must be accessible to all homeless people who need it, without construction of silly, arbitrary barriers such as being in a particular program or having been homeless for a particular length of time.