In an outlandish and brazenly dishonest article by Chuck Nevius, columnist for the SF Chronicle, the Coalition on Homelessness citation defense program was blamed for the overdose of James Hill, a man who passed away recently in the San Francisco Library’s Main Branch.
Nevius claims that if he had been convicted of open container, he would have been given treatment. In fact, there is no treatment attached to traffic court, nor any treatment being offered by the District Attorney. The most the District Attorney has provided is a list of services that includes phone numbers for all kinds of social services including treatment programs that are full, with waiting lists of over 500 people.
This is the latest in a long line of lies printed in Nevius’ column.
For example, on March 2, 2008, Nevius argued that panhandling is out of control because the Coalition on Homelessness defends panhandlers in court. Once again, before he ran the article, we informed him that we had only defended a handful of panhandlers (less than 2% of the number he suggests) over the year before he printed it. Not because we wouldn’t, but because that is how many show up at our office for defense. Others were misdemeanors and did not go to traffic court. He ran the misinformation anyway.
San Franciscans are deeply concerned with human dignity. The lack of safe and affordable housing will not be solved by making people without homes into criminals and falsely and recklessly blaming advocates for situations far beyond their realm of work.