Last week Supervisor Mark Farrell held a hearing to evaluate the city's 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness in San Francisco. I wasn't able to attend, but I watched the hearing on the SFGov TV channel. (And I'd like my two hours and 47 minutes back, thank you.)
The idea was to see if the plan is working. Spoiler alert - it isn't.
It's not from lack of effort. The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 10 years - this year the Department of Human Services budget alone is $102 million for homelessness. San Francisco has created 2,700 supportive housing units, with 340 more on the way in the next two years. And, since 2004, homeless outreach workers have placed over 9,600 homeless single adults in housing. Obviously, not all of them stay housed, but that's the 10-year total.
The result? In 2005 a city-sponsored count found that there were 6,248 homeless individuals in the city. This year the census found 6,436.You know how my village in Redville manages our homeless problem? They don't.
Isn't it kind of weird that we don't seem to have one?
But I can guarantee that if our village officials announced a 10 year plan to deal with the homeless, we'd have a homeless problem the very next day.
The cold hard fact is that for many of the homeless, rock bottom isn't too much a bottom when planning enablers prevent them from hitting it. It's more like the fifth floor than the basement.
Maybe we San Francisco needs to ship in our municipal representatives to their city to show them how it's done.... er.... not done.