San Francisco has turned into one the nation’s coldest cities if you are homeless or just poor. People are now being locked out of some of the only decent shelters available.
Dolores Street shelter is one. It’s the only homeless shelter that serves undocumented immigrants and it is in jeopardy of being closed because the city has cut its funding.
Federal Regulations have restricted almost all services for immigrants and they don’t qualify for hardly anything anymore. Dolores Shelter was the only place in the city immigrants reported feeling safe going to when they needed a place to rest.
Every human being deserves a place to stay; it is a fundamental human right. The Governor of California is an immigrant and he lives luxuriously in the state house. Should all immigrants just pack up and go there?
We also have another shelter that is closing. Saint Boniface Shelter is one the best places for older homeless people to go and be part of a real community, this is as good as it gets when you are homeless. Eighty beds are in jeopardy of being lost and the city has not talked to anyone about a replacement for these lost beds.
St. Boniface is one of the safest shelters in the city and if seniors have to live in shelter, St. Boniface would be one of the places we would feel safe sending them. Clients consistently report that they are treated with respect there and it has the lowest number of Denial of Services issuances of any shelter in the city. In other words people are treated humanely and appropriately there, unlike how numerous clients report being treated at other shelters. What is being done to provide appropriate, respectful, community oriented shelter facilities for homeless folks who want this?
It deserves to be said that seniors shouldn’t be in shelters anyway, they should be in housing, but if they have to be in shelters they should be safe.
Safety brings us to another shelter, the Hamilton Family Emergency Shelter. It is the only emergency shelter in the city for families and its in jeopardy of closing because of safety issues. It is operating on a month-to-month lease that can be canceled at anytime by the church that leases to them.
The City doesn’t even pay Hamilton’s full rent. The shelter has to raise more than eighty thousand dollars per year just to pay the rent. Add on much more money for repairs and upkeep because the building is old and inappropriate for housing the 70 people a night that stay there.
The shelter is housed in an old locker room for basketball teams. Children are sleeping crammed in with adults in an unsafe facility, colds and illnesses are routinely passed to staff and residents, and the ventilation system is not designed to accommodate 70 people. There are no windows and the place is struggling with keeping the rodent problem under control. The building is just too old and small. The conditions are appalling.
Hamilton is making do with the limited funding it receives. Do people realize that the City has homeless children in a crowded understaffed shelter with no cribs, improper ventilation systems, and questionable safety? These are basic things we all need to survive.
Homeless families with children are living in a church that doesn’t want them there. This is the only emergency shelter for families in the city.
Children deserve more than that.
Why are we allowing this to happen?
The Coalition on Homelessness is not trying to condone shelter as a way to live. We have always fought for housing, but when the city is continuing to close shelters and doesn’t have real housing to replace them, this scares us in to wondering what actually happening to people.
Where are the kids supposed to grow-up and develop?
These children are our future leaders. What are we teaching them?
Will they be getting that one-way ticket out of town that the police are handing out to homeless people?
We have no issues with San Francisco getting out of the shelter business, but they need to replace shelters with permanent housing—not just a ticket out of town.
Poor people have a right to live here too!