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Candidates Speak on Homelessness

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Homelessness has been one of the top concerns of San Franciscans since the administration of former mayor Art Agnos. Mayor Newsom won his first term running almost exclusively on his promise to “fix the problem.”

Unfortunately, in the absence of any candidates with strong name recognition and reasonably deep pockets to tap, the debate has been shut down before it even started. The punditry has chosen to deride the candidates as irrelevant sideshows or footnotes to Newsom’s overwhelming advantage in the polls.

While the mainstream media chooses to focus on the horse race aspect (or rather the lack thereof) of the upcoming mayoral election, the Street Sheet went old school: Instead of talking of the lopsided advantage for the incumbent, we wanted to know what was in the minds of all the candidates.

With that purpose, we sent out a brief questionnaire asking the candidates about their views on the issue of homelessness.

At the time this issue went to print, only four candidates had responded to our request: George Davis, Chicken John, Josh Wolf, and Quintin Mecke. We printed their responses in the order we received them and exactly as we received them. No editorial comments were added, nor corrections were made.

Mayor Newsom did not respond before press time. However, all responses that arrive too late to print will be posted here. Although we were disappointed with this, we thought that maybe we could let his record speak for him. We looked at four years of speeches, press releases, and statements. Then, we looked at the City’s data and we compared both. You can find our analysis of these records starting on the opposite side of this page, and continuing on page 5.

You’ll notice an interesting spectrum of familiarity with homelessness issues among the questionnaire respondents.

Our questionnaire consisted of the following six questions and requests:

  1. In three lines or fewer, please describe what your homeless policy will be if elected.
  2. If elected, how will you address the representation gap that exists between the communities of influence and communities of indigence?
  3. In three lines or fewer, how would you address homelessness among families?
  4. Did/do you support or oppose Proposition N “Care not Cash”?
  5. How do you view law enforcement’s role in addressing homelessness?
  6. Do you support or oppose the proposed Community Justice Center ?

These are the responses:

GEORGE DAVIS

  1. Provide homes. Nobody should sleep on the street or spend more than one night in a shelter or jail. In the short run, I would find underutilized buildings and purchase/lease trailers on underutilized land to house the homeless immediately.
  2. In all honesty, I don’t know. I would appreciate an education in workable ideas.
  3. Provide Homes. In the short run, see the 1st answer. In the long run, it’s a Federal issue which involves extension of the Section 8 program and tax incentives to developers to build low and medium income homes like 10-15 year accelerated depreciation cost recovery deductions, passive loss to investors, and interest rate subsidies.
  4. I believe everyone in a rich country like America is entitled to a guaranteed minimum income, clean dignified housing, nutritious food, and universal healthcare. If a person cannot manage their funds, then a financial intermediary will have to do it for them.
  5. Once housing is online, the police cannot tolerate people sleeping in the street both for the health of the homeless and dignity of the City. A right to sleep on the street or parks does not exist. Unfortunately, a minority of homeless may seek institutionalization or banishment over living in clean homes.
  6. I have concerns that it may take away legal rights of many that go before it. The DA wanted to funnel me into it for a case that they could not try and win. In honesty, I could use more education on the subject.

CHICKEN JOHN

I dunno how to respond to this. I don’t know how to properly “address” homelessness. Really. I’m kinda new to the idea of being all things to all people. Your questions are kinda pointed, like a sharp stick in the eye. I’m running for second place, so my candidacy may not fit into your scope of vision. But I’m here to converse, if you’d like. I just don’t know that what I’m doing fits into your templet. But that doesn’t mean that I am in any way opposed or against the Street Sheet. I just simply don’t have a feel good answer to plunk down on the table and make people like me. And no one has any chance to run and win. So what difference does it make what my opinon on the whole issue is?

Please, share your thoughts…

JOSH WOLF

  1. Our homeless are in need of jobs as well as support, as mayor I will establish a program to provide sustainable employment opportunities, and create 24-hour community centers that will be available to the homeless and deliver services and referrals to service on demand.
  2. San Francisco has a commission for almost every segment of our population, but there is no commission on homelessness. As mayor I will develop a commission to address the needs of our homeless population that will be made up of homeless residents, formerly homeless residents and community leaders working to provide homeless support. As mayor I will pioneer a plan for true democracy, every voice should be heard and heeded in determining San Francisco’s future not just those representing the political machine and the wealthy elite.
  3. While homelessness and poverty perpetuate suffering for everyone, low-income families are especially vulnerable to losing their homes and hit hardest when displaced. In order to support these families, the city should set aside sufficient funding to provide for their needs.
  4. I am opposed to Care Not Cash; as long as we are living in a capitalist system, “care” can never adequately substitute for “cash.” Proposition N has not reduced the incidence of homelessness, nor has it improved the quality of life for those living in San Francisco without permanent housing.
  5. The credo of the police is to protect and serve. That duty extends across socio-economic lines; it is not the role of law enforcement to harass or intimidate the homeless and it is imperative that San Francisco commits to the principle that neither poverty nor homelessness is a crime.
  6. I feel strongly that our response quality-of-life violations should not jail and other criminal penalties, but I am not sure that the Community Justice Center is the answer either. Much of the laws that would be addressed by the Community Justice Center, can best be addressed by providing additional resources as opposed to punishing those who with no real alternatives.

QUINTIN MECKE

  1. As Mayor, my homeless policy would start with implementing a Standard of Care within the shelter system to ensure that residents are treated with dignity, respect and receive the services that they need. I would also engage in a broad public education campaign so that people understood the root causes of homelessness while also supporting increased funding for extremely low-income housing.
  2. As Mayor, I would work to ensure that the most at-risk and vulnerable populations in our society are represented in city government to make sure that their concerns & issues are consistently addressed. I would also work to ensure that the general public is aware of the challenges facing our indigents in the hopes of building more collaborative relationships between the various communities.
  3. As Mayor, I would improve and fund an eviction prevention program as preventing evictions and the loss of housing is the first step in addressing homelessness, especially amongst families. I support Supervisor Daly’s and Ammiano’s proposed charter amendment for an annual affordable housing set-aside, the city needs to have more dedicated resources towards the development of affordable housing.
  4. I opposed Proposition N and debated then-Supervisor Newsom several times about it in 2002.
  5. Being poor and homeless is not a crime, law enforcement should not have a role in addressing homelessness unless they are responding to a situation where an individual is a danger to him/herself or others or is in the act of committing an actual crime.
  6. As a former judge arbitrator for the South of Market Community court, I support a restorative justice model and do not believe that spending limited resources on quality of life infractions is the best way to address homelessness and affect social change.

All responses were printed as received. Please note that the Street Sheet does not necessarily advocate for the positions, terminology, or spelling of any mayoral candidate.

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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.

One thought on “Candidates Speak on Homelessness

  1. Editor:

    Of the people running for mayor, only one is really running for himself, and that is East Coast carpetbagger Chicken (LOOK AT ME!!!) John Rinaldi.

    I believe him to be a homeowner, so why should he worry about homelessness?

    Perhaps a good week in a cardboard refrigerator box, oops – sorry, that’s too comfortable, how about a Foster Farm’s carton, would open up his mind to how other people out on the street feel.

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