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Taking Action On Shelter Issues

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Are you tired of waiting in line for a one-night shelter bed? Angry about how you are treated by shelter staff? Worried about the safety of your person and possessions when you stay in the shelters?

This summer, after witnessing again and again the problems with the San Francisco shelter system and hearing the horror stories of life in the shelters, the Coalition has kick-started an existing Coaliton workgroup—Right to a Roof. The workgroup focuses on mobilizing shelter residents to take on some of the biggest and most pressing problems they experience in the City’s various shelters.

Our first step was to conduct outreach and get people involved, so the Coalition held two Shelter Forums. At the first meeting, the workgroup heard from a variety of speakers: representatives from the Shelter Monitoring Committee, the Homeless Coordinating Board, local service providers, and (most importantly) the men and women resident in the shelters. They raised a number of important issues:

  • Disrespectful treatment by shelter staff
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Shelter closures
  • Shelter hours and early wake-up
  • Dirty bathrooms
  • Overcrowding
  • The referral process—having to wait in line, go from place to place, etc.

At the second forum, we voted on which of the issues discussed at the prior meeting were of the highest priority, and the meeting attendees identified clearly their most pressing issues: disrespectful treatment by shelter staff and personal safety.

For the next several weeks, that is what the workgroup will focus on; we plan to turn these into a Human Rights Campaign for the city’s homeless. If you are interested in this project and want to see changes in the City’s shelter system, you are invited to attend our meetings every Wednesday at 3:30 at the Coalition.


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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