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Fair Shelter Initiative Myths and Facts

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Honest debate is the cornerstone of democracy;
Dishonest debate is a sinkhole

The Fair Shelter Initiative, to appear on the November 2011 ballot, would clarify that shelter beds are not considered housing under the 2002 Proposition N. This change would both maintain housing and services for homeless recipients, yet create equity in the shelter system. As this is a politically charged issue, there is a whole lot of dishonest discourse out there. Read on to find to find out the truth.

Myth:  Fair Shelter would dismantle Care Not Cash because shelter is a stepping-stone to housing.
Fact: Shelter does not have to be a stepping stone to housing – SF has a policy where people are housed right off the streets called “Housing First.” and it is done successfully by city programs like HOT team.  Under Care Not Cash, people are offered housing if it is available at their monthly appointment, not inside the shelter.

Myth: Individuals could turn down housing and choose to languish in the shelters just to collects their full welfare check.
Fact: Those who turn down offer of actual housing would continue to get their grants reduced under this proposal- just not if it is shelter.

Myth: People will come in from out of town to take advantage of the cash benefits.
Fact: The argument that people will come in from out of town has never been proven.   None of the city’s official reports support that argument.  In fact, a city study found that less then 1.3% came for services.

Myth: Money for housing will go to welfare checks instead, housing funding will siphoned off and people who are housed now will be evicted.
Fact: Funding for housing is protected in the measure. According to the Controller’s Office, the fund is set between $12 million and has reached the cap of $14 million. It can go no higher or lower. Currently it is maxed out, so very little of the money charged to homeless people for shelter goes into the fund.

Myth: Shelters will lose funding because they will no longer get funding from peoples welfare check.
Fact: No money from the welfare checks has ever gone to shelter providers.

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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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