Saturday, May 02, 2015

SF Homeless Czar: 110,000 Shelter Bed Requests to 311 System

Over the years, I've learned that Mayor Ed Lee's homeless czar Bevan Dufty's word cannot be taken at face value. Lemme explain. In February, I asked Dufty to back my proposal to open taxpayer-funded bathrooms and showers at San Francisco firehouses during restricted hours to the homeless. The health menace to the homeless folks and general population due to lack of enough public toilets needs to be a priority, in my view as a person with a very compromised immune system.

Here's Dufty's February reply asking him to address this public health hazard, all the poop and pee on the streets: "When I was District 8 Supervisor, I know that facilities were available at Fire Station 26 that is adjacent to Walter Haas playground. I am copying your message to Fire Chief Hayes-White [...] You have asked a good question and I will work to get good answers. City government is closed for Monday's holiday so we will follow up Tuesday."

When I didn't hear back from him, two months later, in early April, I asked for action from Department of Public Health chief Barbara Garcia, to address the poop problem and push for opening City-owned buildings for toilet-access. She replied:

"I’m working with Bevan to pick up the ball, spoke to him yesterday about this and I need to work on this with him for a minute. So you are stuck with me for the meanwhile. Most likely our environmental health dept will take lead once we know what we are going to do."

It's now three months since I first contacted Dufty, ever closer to Election Day, and still no response from him about the stinking (bad pun intended) need for public toilets. Both the SFFD and DPH, as am I, are waiting for Dufty to communicate on the need for more places to poop. But I digress from my central point about shelter bed access.

At the March 2 meeting of the City's Local Homeless Coordinating Board, which is sorta under the supervision of Dufty and very few taxpayers know about and which I requested in September 2012 move their meetings to City Hall and air on SFGovTV to provide us with transparency and Dufty promised to look into these concerns, this is what Dufty reported about shelter bed access and reservations:

"Dufty: I would like to mention that there has been some discussion about 311 and shelter access. Roughly, we received over 110,000 calls to 311. Obviously that is a tremendous volume of calls, and the costs of those calls add up. When I was a supervisor, we realized those calls were costing almost $2 each. We want to make sure that the calls are necessary and important calls.

"Board Member Del Seymour: How long does it take to get a shelter bed?

"Dufty: I thought it was 3 weeks for a woman and 4 weeks for a man.

"Seymour: I admire the system. I think it’s working.

"Dufty: Also the 311 staff loves providing the service. There were questions about the reservation system. There is a lot of property at First Friendship. Perhaps longer term there could be an effort to make a better facility. I think it’s understandable that Hamilton Family Center raises the question about whether or not to keep doing a one night model.

"Member of the Public: I want to ask about ADA beds. What are you doing about that?

"Dufty: I am aware that there are complications about lower bunks for people with disabilities. I just want to say again that H.S.A. has been really spectacular."

The next meeting of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board is this Monday, May 4th at 11AM at the Human Resources Agency's auditorium at 150 Otis Street, near Duboce. I'll be there and hope other taxpayers will also be present.

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