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LGBTQ Connect

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In San Francisco, housing is the #1 unmet need of the HIV population, and the LGBT community is nearly two and a half times as likely to be homeless as the general population. The National AIDS Strategy has identified housing for people with HIV as a national priority, and, according to HUD, San Francisco ranks last in the nation in meeting the housing needs of people with HIV/AIDS.

  • According to the 2013 San Francisco Biennial Homeless Point In Time Count and Survey, which collected data on sexual orientation for the first time, nearly one-third (29%) of the San Francisco’s homeless identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
  • In July 2013, a report issued by the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force formed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Addressing The Needs of LGBT Older Adults in San Francisco, found that 40% of LGBT older adults were living in poverty, compared to 30% of the general population, that 24% needed housing assistance, and two-thirds (66%) are concerned they will not be able to remain in their homes, yet 42% of housing assistance service users feel unsafe obtaining assistance as an LGBT person.
  • The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force and the federally mandated Ryan White CARE Council have both identified an emerging crisis need for rental subsidies to keep disabled seniors in their homes when their employer-sponsored long-term disability policies expire as they reach retirement age.
  • The HUD-mandated Analysis of Impediments to Access to Fair Housing identified a need for increased access to rental assistance to remove barriers to fair housing for senior and disabled individuals.

This data supports a needs-based increased investment in culturally competent homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing services targeting the LGBT community, today.

WANTED-1


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Homeless and Poor People Targeted Again

Supervisor Carmen Chu’s Hate Law banning parking of large vehicles (RV’s, Campers, etc.) sailed through the Board of Supervisors with only 4 members, John Avalos, Jane Kim, David Campos and Christina Olague, standing up for the rights of people who have lost so much already.

Read the complete story in the next issue of Street Sheet, October 1st.

COH


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San Francisco General Election


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Stop the Destruction: Park Merced

By the Park Merced Action Coalition

On Monday, July 11, at 11am, San Francisco residents, San Francisco Tomorrow, Parkmerced Action Coalition, their attorney Stuart Flashman and members of the Board of Supervisors rallied on the steps of City Hall to call attention to the Board of Supervisors’ approval of a plan to demolish their rent-controlled community. They released the following statement:

STOP THE DESTRUCTION!
Learning from history, social fabric and neighborhoods can evolve organically for the betterment of San Francisco rather than calling for wholesale demolition with short-sighted economic benefits—particularly when true infill development alternatives would be both feasible and profitable.

In order to stop the destruction of one of San Francisco’s few multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and family neighborhoods, San Francisco Tomorrow (SFT) and the Park Merced Action Coalition (PMAC) have filed a lawsuit against the City for its June 9th approval of the Parkmerced Development Project.

The Final Environment Impact Report (FEIR) for the Parkmerced Project is inaccurate and inadequate.  If allowed to continue as approved, the project will destroy 1,538 units of affordable, rent-controlled housing, adversely affect the environment and well being of those living, working, and playing in the region.  In addition, the suit points to the project’s inconsistency with priority policies enacted by San Francisco voters in Proposition M as well as other inconsistencies with the City’s general plan and violation of the City’s Sunshine Ordinance.

The lawsuit calls for the court to set aside the project approvals until the Park Merced Project complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and the City’s general plan policies.

VIOLATIONS INCLUDE:

· Demolition of 1,538 seismically sound rent-controlled townhouses and their surrounding gardens.

· Not addressing livability issues associated with the 20- 30 year demolition and construction project, including: noise, air quality, and loss of open space.  The Project’s findings DO NOT MEET legal air quality standards.

· Failing to assess the seismic impact of the existing towers, nor providing for their retrofits and upgrades.  Additionally, no provisions exist for loss of open space and other unavoidable adverse impacts for tower residents.

· Slaughter of migrating birds by the Project’s shoreline windmills, and a general refusal to look at alternatives that could avoid the Project’s many impacts.

· The faulty reference to development as a “transit village”, since no third party assurances or funding sources are identified for transit and related work.  The addition of 6,342 parking places also contradicts the concept of a transit village.


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Pain + Suffering= $$$ For Wells Fargo

Pain + Suffering= $$$ For Wells Fargo
Protests Launch National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign
By Lydia Heather Blumberg

On July 1st, protesters in community and labor groups nationwide will take to the streets in protest of the private prison industry’s business model of lobbying for harsher incarceration policies for drug users, immigrants, and other marginalized populations who are often scapegoated as being the origin of our nation’s problems. These policies have devastated state and federal budgets worldwide, forcing a slash and burn of the social safety nets that the poor and middle classes depend upon for survival. Protesters will call on Wells Fargo Bank to divest its holdings in GEO Group (one of the two largest private prison companies in the US that runs immigrant detention centers and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp for the federal government) and CCA, Corrections Corporation of America. In addition, protesters will demand that Wells Fargo put a moratorium on foreclosures and stop the criminal lending practices targeting communities of color, as well as pay its fair share of local, state, and federal taxes.

Immigrant detention centers cost taxpayers over $10 billion a year while making big money for hedge fund managers and shareholders like Wells Fargo. Prison stock held by Wells Fargo alone is currently valued at over $88 million. The private prison industry and its investors have a long and shameful record of targeting and incarcerating communities of color by lobbying for legislation to enact “three strikes” laws, criminalize undocumented immigrants (through laws like SB1070 in Arizona and a similar bill in Georgia, home of the largest private prison in the nation), and increase sentencing standards for even the most minor drug offenses. Political candidates financed by these groups often run on a “tough on crime” platform. With CCA and GEO Group making $200 a night per immigrant detained, it all adds up to a profit of over $5 billion a year made just by these two companies–at the expense of taxpayers (and the destruction of the lives of thousands of families of those incarcerated.)

Even San Francisco has fallen prey to the financial manipulation of Wells Fargo and its policies of backing political campaigns that increase incarceration. Last August, The Bay Citizen reported that one of the largest contributions to the so-called “Civil Sidewalks” campaign was made by former Wells Fargo CEO and board chairman, Richard M. Kovacevich. The Civil Sidewalks campaign, backed by banks and big business, put Prop L on last year’s San Francisco ballot, which criminalized people for the simple act of sitting on a sidewalk.

The July 1st action is just one event in a long-term campaign for national prison industry divestment. The protest, sponsored by Communities United Against Violence, among other organizations, will feature a rally and street theater beginning at 11am in front of the Wells Fargo Bank at 464 California Street. Several similar-themed direct actions have happened over the past few months, including a protest in May at a Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting and a Communities Rising rally on June 17th in front of City Hall. The rally on June 17 was sponsored by CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget) and the SF Drug Users’ Union to commemorate 40 years of Drug War failure, calling for an end to the failed War on Drugs and national divestment from the Prison Industrial Complex in order to fund education and health care.

Can’t make it to a rally? Slactivists far and wide can make their voices heard by moving their money from Wells Fargo accounts to local credit unions which invest in our communities. Want to learn more? Surf to immigrantsforsale.org and justicepolicy.org.


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Action: July 4 Homes Not Jails house occupation

Following the SF “Meme” Troupe’s 2pm performance (theme of the meme: Integrity!)

Make this July 4th a day to be remembered… Join the rally in Dolores Park by 4pm so you won’t miss the lively and lyrical march to the Open Housing Occupation site.

Festivities both inside and outside the occupation site will include: performance art, live music, FREE dinner (lovingly prepared by SF Food Not Bombs), poetry, and direct action.

Housing must not sit vacant while people are forced to live on the streets. 2010 Census figures over 32,000 vacant housing units in The City while approximately 10,000 individuals remain homeless. People must not be evicted for profit. Human rights should come before property rights. Come out and make your voice heard! We realize the need to respect the individual while we embrace the need for collective empowerment, equitable communities, and mutual aid.

In 2005, there were an estimated 1 billion (yes, BILLION) people worldwide living in squatted homes and squatter shantytowns. By 2030 the projected number will jump to 2 billion or ONE in FOUR people on the planet.. We will unite, we will fight, and…WE WILL WIN!

Actions are taking place in countries worldwide this July 4th, providing a great opportunity to celebrate our autonomy and integrity. We are seizing this moment by creating a liberated space and by gathering squatters and homesteaders from throughout the Bay Area to begin organizing a vital regional squatters’ syndicate based on autonomy, integrity, shared resources, and mutual aid.

We welcome any additional overnight occupiers, musicians, performers, cooks, medics, liasons, and direct action heros to join us, so don’t be shy. For more information about Homes Not Jails, surf to HomesNotJailsSF.org.


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Fair Shelter Initiative Myths and Facts

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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The Lash-back response to the Fair Shelter Initiative

On June 21st, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced the “Fair Shelter Initiative” which makes a simple change to Newsom’s Care not Cash program by removing shelter beds from the definition of housing. With the response from the city’s most powerful, you would have thought she was drowning a kitten, or lighting the Musuem of Modern Art on fire, or, I don’t know, refusing to say the pledge of allegiance. They completely freaked out, pulled out their peeners (whoops, I mean guns) and declared war.
The allegations went flying and included, among many:

  • Progressive Supervisors secretly plotted to put this on the ballot (funny, they introduced legislation at a public meeting–isn’t that always the way it goes?)
  • Progressive Supervisors put this on the ballot as a wedge issue (hmm, to draw more progressives to the polls? Is there a progressive in town that doesn’t vote in every election?)
  • The initiative will dismantle Care not Cash (I thought Care not Cash was about housing. So now they are saying the entirety of the program is shelter?)

The allegations are so long, in fact, that we have included a list of myths and facts here in the Street Sheet just to clear the air. However, I think it is worth talking about why the Coalition on Homelessness decided to pitch the initiative to Supervisors and bring it forward to voters. Why?

You see, the Coalition on Homelessness is just so misunderstood. We are not ideologues–our structure prevents that. We do outreach to homeless people, find out what they want us to fight for, and then we fight for them. This may come as a surprise to some, but our job is to actually represent poor and homeless people: the most hated, disenfranchised, patronized, and demonized group of folks in the city. You see, homelessness is where all forms of oppression intersect–racism, homophobia, fear of disability, all of that. But since it is a diverse group of people who only have in common being too poor to afford a place to live, it is somehow OK to hate them.

We have no political aspirations, we are not political appointees, and we are not seeking to increase any Poverty Pimp contracts held with the City. We simply sacrifice and work hard because we truly believe that every human being has the right to housing, the right to food and economic security, and will thrive if given the opportunity.

Now that the hidden agenda and mischevious motives have been dispensed with, you are probably wondering what this “disturbing the peace in city hall” initiative is all about.

We have been doing extensive outreach to shelter residents and shelter seekers for years and the same issue comes up over and over. There is mass inequity in the shelter system where 7% of the homeless population (adults on county assistance) get 41% of the beds. The rest of the folks–people with disabilities, seniors, working people, undocumented folks, individuals collecting unemployment–must compete for the remaining beds. They start at 3:00 am and go on until 10:00 at night, perhaps (if they’re “lucky”) getting a bed for one night and having to start the process all over again the next day.

Let me break it down for you. Let’s take Sue ZeeQue. She became homeless after losing work. Like most of us, she was “just a paycheck away” from being homeless. She didn’t have any family or a trust fund to fall back on and when her unemployment ran out she went to the city for some help and signed up for public assistance. As she was homeless, the welfare office offered her a shelter bed. It would not have mattered if she took it or not–once it was offered, her cash assistance was reduced by 85%. She may languish in the shelter for months or years before they offer her any real housing, trying humbly to feed herself on two dollars a day without cooking facilities or a fridge.

Meanwhile, Laura Jean has been seeking shelter, starting early each day–pushing her walker across town, trying not to stop and cry. After 8 grueling days, she finally gets a shelter bed, and to her dismay she notices a bunch of empty beds. She asks some questions and discovers Care not Cash is to blame–the inequity locks elders like her out–the empty beds are due to the fact that when county welfare recipients don’t use the bed it is not released but for one night, and late at night. The drill is go to Glide in the Tenderloin at 3:00 am, go to MSC-South at 5th and Bryant at 9:00. Get a wristband at 11:00 am. Come back at 5:00. Wait some more until beds are released at 7:00 pm. Wait some more until 10:00 when the last of the beds are released. Laura Jean was tired.

If the Fair Shelter Initiative passes, Sue ZeeQue would get her full grant until she was offered real housing. Sue ZeeQue could still get shelter, but she would be on equal footing with Laura Jean. With the full grant, her hunger will be alleviated, and the city would be pressured to offer her some housing more quickly. Laura Jean will more likely get a long term bed until housing is available, given that she is elderly and at risk.

The beauty of all of this is that the housing funding under Care Not Cash would be protected. The fund is set at the 2002 expenditure level (what they were spending on cash assistance to homeless people at the time.) It is paying for the housing and will continue to pay for the housing if Fair Shelter passes.

In the end, fair shelter will protect the housing funds, while creating equity in the shelter system.

As for the opposition…why are they freaking out so much? Well, beyond it being viewed as an absolute sin for poor homeless folks to have a little income, it is shaking the tree of absolute truth that has been created in the media: that everything is being done for homeless people, and that those who are still homeless have simply chosen to be homeless, and that Care not Cash is an amazing cure all for anyone who ever wants to get elected.

Back here at the Coalition, well, we are just trying to improve the lives of destitute San Franciscans, and nobody seems to like that. Oh yeah, except the formerly homeless who now have a shot at not dying in the street.


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Right 2a Roof Open Call to Community

RIGHTS 2A ROOF OPEN CALL

By L.J. Cirilo

Are you homeless, formerly homeless, ever resided in a shelter in San Francisco, or just plain disgusted by our city’s lack of affordable housing? Have you ever been mistreated or discriminated against while residing in a shelter, or been denied services from a shelter, know someone who has, or have a disability and been denied an accommodation? Then WE WANT YOU! Come to the Rights 2a Roof workgroup and join us in our struggle to demand better treatment, improve the shelter system, and force our law makers to make the creation of more affordable housing for all homeless a priority! We, the members of Right 2a Roof, have fought long and hard and have won many battles with the City of San Francisco and will continue to do so until every single man, woman and child living outside, in a car or doubled up in someone else’s garage or SRO, are provided permanent affordable housing! This is a human right and we demand our government to recognize the plight of the poor and say, “This is unacceptable!” No one should ever have to sleep outside, on a cold and wet concrete slab, under a bridge, or in a tent city just because they are poor and cannot afford the exorbitant rent in San Francisco. We as a community cannot and should not accept this. We at the Coalition on Homeless do not accept this. Currently, several homeless services are on the chopping block in an effort to balance this year’s budget. We at Right 2a Roof say “No more cuts! We have no bone marrow for you!”

Over the past several years Rights 2a Roof has successfully created 32 standards of care for all city funded shelters, passed legislation to halt the runaround by lengthening shelter stays, and we also recently won a lawsuit that led to greatly improved access and conditions for people with disabilities. We worked hard to pass the Shelter Monitoring Committee legislation which now ensures that each city funded shelter is inspected and that the conditions of the shelters are tracked, which has succeeded in exposing and correcting countless problems within the shelter system.

However, our work is not done. Currently we are working on ending the biometric imaging that makes it mandatory for all shelter seekers to have their picture taken, along with thumbprint imaging just to get a bed to sleep in. We are also going to the ballot this November to seek the removal of shelter from the definition of housing for Care Not Cash recipients, and to have a more equitable bed ratio for people who are not on the Care Not Cash program, thus decreasing the amount of time someone must stand in line to get a shelter bed. We are also conducting a housing survey to gain valuable information from those that are currently homeless, in order to shed light on the many obstacles which prevent people from accessing real affordable low-income and permanent housing. We at Rights 2a Roof are a dedicated group of homeless and formerly homeless folks who are working hard to ensure a safe and welcoming shelter system for homeless individuals and families where human, disability and civil rights are up held, where respectful staffing reflects the diversity of the community served and where there is accountability to the standards of care. We need your help – Come join the struggle!

We meet every Wednesday from noon to 2:00pm at the Coalition on Homelessness, 468 Turk St. For more information go to our website: http://www.cohsf.org or contact Right 2a Roof at (415)346-3740


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A Message from the Chair of the Shelter Monitoring Committee

A Message from the Chair…
By L.J. Cirilo

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and personally invite my fellow d6 neighbors, anyone currently or formerly residing in a city funded shelter, all shelter service providers and stakeholders, along with any other concerned community members who may be interested in learning more about the conditions homeless people are facing in the current shelter system and the overall work of the Committee, to attend the next public meeting of the Shelter Monitoring Committee.

We will be discussing some very important topics such as the 2011-2012 Budget as it relates to homeless services, I will be presenting a draft budget letter for the full Committee’s approval, as well as the presentation of the Jan-Feb-March 2011 Quarterly Report. To find a full agenda for May’s meeting and more about the SMC please go to: http://www.sfgov3.org/index.aspx?page=2779

Mission Statement
The Shelter Monitoring Committee is an independent vehicle charged with documenting the conditions of shelters and resource centers to improve the health, safety, and treatment of residents, clients, staff, and the homeless community. The Committee’s mission is to undertake this work recognizing individual human rights and promoting a universal standard of care for shelters and resource centers in the City and County of San Francisco.