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Help Keep After-Hours Emergency Drop-In in the Central City

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Come testify before the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee regarding the closure of Buster’s place.

Thursday June 21st

4:00 Steps of City Hall

Rally along with other poor people’s organizations for a fair budget for all poor communities (People’s Budget)

5:00 Come testify at hearing, Room 250 inside City Hall

Buster’s Place is closing its doors on June 30. The Mayor did not include funding in his budget for this program next year. Homeless people must have a safe place to go that is open 24 hours for non-medical emergencies, basic necessities such as showers and bathrooms, and to connect with housing and homeless services.

What is Buster’s Place?

Buster’s Place is the only drop-in center for homeless people that was created this past fall to replace McMillan Drop-In Center. It is the only existing drop-in center for homeless people in the Central City area that operates 24 hours. It has showers (and the only wheelchair-accessible showers), support services, bathrooms, 65 chairs, and some beds for the sobering center component. It is currently the only place through which you can access shelters after 11:00 p.m. and before 7:00 a.m. It serves some of the most vulnerable people in our city.

Why is Buster’s Place Closing?

Neither the Department of Public Health, nor the Mayor has included funding for this critical service in next fiscal year’s budget.

Why Should The City Take Action Now?

For homeless people, this will mean no place to go after hours. No access to a safe place when homeless people feel they are in danger. No respite from bad weather. No escape from police harassment. No access to shelter, even if there are open beds.

The need for 24-hour drop-in is crucial—especially for people with mental illnesses who utilize this facility on a regular basis.

To close Buster’s Place without finding an alternative site for 24-hour drop-in capacity is coldly negligent on the part of the city.

The impact on resource centers will be overwhelming. Since South Beach Drop-In Center closed, and implementation of the CHANGES system, drop-in centers in San Francisco have been so crowded that it is not uncommon to see spill over into the streets. Mission Resource Center and TARC operate far above capacity. Closure of this facility would overwhelm the remaining resource centers.

A 24-hour drop-in center offers the advantage of having homeless people safely inside whereby they can be engaged into homeless services and provided with opportunities to exit homelessness. Without such a facility, homeless people are hidden in neighborhoods and transient, making efforts to connect them with healthcare, treatment, and permanent housing considerably more difficult.

We strongly believe that San Francisco is not yet in a place where we can justify losing 24-hour access to a drop-in center. This is evidenced by the throngs (over 100 per day) of vulnerable people found at Buster’s Place at all times of day and night.

While the City no longer officially tracks “turn-aways” from shelters, one Coalition survey of shelter reservation sites found an average of 50 individuals turned away a day from shelter.

The Coalition on Homelessness has long maintained that dozens of homeless people sleeping upright in chairs every night is unacceptable. However, we believe it is a core service and true need until every San Franciscan has safe decent affordable housing.

This is an opportunity for the City to succeed where it failed at McMillan. The City can permanently open a Central City area center where people can receive care, treatment, and crisis-intervention services in a dignified and safe setting.

Given the large numbers of homeless people superimposed against limited affordable housing and shelter capacity, we firmly believe in the continued need for 24-hour drop-in capacity until that day when chairs sit happily empty. We are grieved to report that day is not today.

What are We Demanding?

We want the City to provide after hours drop-in services in the Central City area. The City needs to find the funding now. The Board of Supervisors should add back at least $1.3 million for this purpose. There are thousands of homeless people in SF without shelter every night. Dozens depart their lives having no place to call home. Until the City truly houses each of them, they need a place to go in emergency situations!

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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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