by Brian Davis
San Francisco voters approved legislation called Proposition N that forces
homeless individuals into “slum” hotels to receive their government assistance checks. It is estimated that it will cost $700,000 to set up the program, and will not begin until at least July 1995. The measure passed by only 2% of the vote in the November elections
Proposition N forces people that refuse to receive their checks at these hotels or other residence to be dropped from the roles. As it stands now a non-profit organization will have to oversee the program, but the non-profit organizations in San Francisco are balking at the idea of forcing people into housing against their will.
Voters turned down, by a narrow 1% margin, a measure that would have outlawed sleeping on sidewalks or park benches during the day and early evening. Paul Bowden of the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco said, “This is a tourists town, and tourism dictates how you set your social policy,”
Proposition N would force homeless people to establish residency to live in these “deplorable hotels,” according to Stuart Hambone, a formerly homeless resident who now is a San Francisco ombudsman and GA rights union organizer. He said the hotels that the homeless are asked to move into only recently were upgraded with heat. They are roach infested and a center of drug trafficking. Hambone believes that there will be many unhappy residence that will rebel.
Currently, there are not enough units to house all the homeless people on the welfare roles. Bowden believed that they will nave to kick people out of low income single room occupancy hotels to house the homeless. This will allow the mayor to demonstrate that the program is working.
Both initiatives were placed on the ballot by the mayor of San Francisco, Frank Jordan with no advisory panel or petition. Hambone said that this is an attempt to guarantee Jordan’s re-election. “The mayor can say, ‘Look, I cleaned up the city.’ He is trying to do well for the city, but this is not the right approach.”
This is all part of the Matrix program of the Mayor, which is intended to cleanse the city of all eyesores. Hambone believes it is class warfare by the mayor. “This is not a permanent solution,” Hambone commented, “but merely a way to get the homeless out of San Francisco.”
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #8, December 1994-February 1995