The Answer is?

root - Posted on 08 January 2002

City Government and Mainstream Media continues to blame houseless, Disabled San Franciscans for being houseless and disabled

by Leroy Moore

Last month San Francisco was hit hard by disabled troops that came from all over the country. The troops, members of a national-wide organization, ADAPT demanded answers from the Mayor and other local political leaders. They wanted to know why San Francisco has the largest institution, Lugunda Hunda, in the country that is receiving millions of dollars for renovations when there is a lack of low-income accessible housing in the community. The answer is? According to a member that attended the meeting with Mayor, Willie Brown the answer was nothing but anger and disgust at the demonstrations that brought downtown traffic to a stand still for two days. When the demonstrators laid out their demands they were met by responds that ìmany of you are not even from the Bay Area.î The meeting got so heated that the Mayor rudely shouted ìshut upî to one of the speaker from ADAPT. The end result was that the Mayor disagreed on every demand ADAPT had even a task force to study the amount of low-income accessible housing compare to the cost of living in Lugunda Handa. ADAPT even received the cold shoulder from Gov. Gray Davis. Who said the voters had already voted on this issue!

Sunday November 4th the San Francisco Chronicle had a Special Report on people who are homeless in San Francisco. Like a Jerry Lewis Telethon, the Chronicle provided their own answers by using people with mental illness and other people with disabilities to pull on the readers moral heart strings and to paint a face of hopelessness and worthless. The story of Mark Shotley, a physically disabled man who according to the Chronicle is a burden to the city because of his medical cost was the theme that repeated itself throughout the four page long special report. The cost, the dirty streets and decrease of tourists all points to the non-responsive, difficult and the criminal behaviors of homeless addicts many who are mentally ill. T he titles of each section of the special report was degrading i.e. ëComatose bodies, debris, human wasteí.

The San Francisco Chronicleís answer to the homeless situation in San Francisco is to follow what New York is doing i.e. more cops, more shelters and more penalties against people who live in poverty i.e. lodging outside. However the article contradicts itself when it said that most shelters donít accompanied people who are mentally ill which make up over 80% of the homeless population. Do we, San Franciscans, have to take a page from Giulianiís book on locking up the homeless for crimes of poverty? We, all known that people with mental illness and cops donít mix check out the article entitled, Gun Crazy: BART cop shoots naked man- why? in the October 17th San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Throughout the special report I notice that many voices were missing, i.e. advocates, grassroots organizations and even the homeless people that the Chronicle interviewed had only a few quotes. You might understand why the political arena in this city has no formula to help eliminate the elements that lead to homelessness i.e. lack of low income housing, decent job creation, helping to keep families together and access to culturally sensitive social services, mental health care etc., after you find out what the head of the Mayorís Office on Homelessness thinks. He thinks that the 'new homeless people' are flocking to San Francisco from other counties that are less generous or tolerant than San Francisco. Basically he and the political arena is pointing the finger to other counties for the reason why San Francisco homeless population has increase. This kind of tactic will not solve anything.

It seems to me the answer that the City and the San Francisco Chronicle is proposing in the above two cases is more money to lock people with disabilities up, more cops, more shelters, finger pointing, and if they get around to it and have money left over then theyíll try supportive housing.


Sign-up for POOR email!