The plan being spearheaded by the San Francisco mayor’s point man on homelessness is to create a one-stop homeless aid center in the heart of the Mission District that’s unlike any seen in America. Usually, when an encampment is broken up, aid workers offer shelter beds and other assistance as the angry campers start heading for the hills. Some take the offers, but many wind up doing what happened in December when San Jose officials busted up the huge Jungle encampment — about half spread out like melted Jell-O into new camps. Cleanup efforts are also thwarted when campers who do land in housing feel alienated or guilty because they abandoned their street community — and they go back to it. [...] are neighborhoods aching to get rid of homeless camps that have been burgeoning as tech-driven housing costs and gentrification shove them into new urban nooks and crannies. “I don’t know how it would ever be possible to help me, and I don’t really trust the system much, but hey — if they can get me and my friends into some kind of center like they’re talking about, we might give it a try,” Gember, 33, said as he tied off the entrance to his tent on San Bruno Avenue to go forage for food. Once in the center, the goal is to move people within three to 10 days to permanent rooms, rehabilitation centers, bus rides home or anything else that can lead to stable lives — and will stick. From creating thousands of counseling-enriched supportive housing units to the periodic Project Homeless Connect daylong, one-stop help fairs, the city has long gone the extra yard to help its street people. The always nettling challenge has been to deal with acutely troubled people who resent the constraints of shelters, distrust government and are afraid to leave their survival routines in the street — and legally can’t be forced to take help. Bending over backward to convince an indigent to take offered assistance seems counterintuitive, but studies show that moving a chronically homeless person out of the gutter actually saves cities money. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the United Way, someone living hard-core on the street costs more than $60,000 a year in police busts, emergency ambulance rides and the like, compared with about $20,000 in a government-funded supportive housing unit with counselors on-site to provide help. Several city agencies, including the Police Department and the Human Services Agency, will participate, along with nonprofits such as the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center and the Homeless Youth Alliance. The units will not just be lumped into huge complexes, but spread throughout other developments and smaller residence hotels away from traditionally troubled areas such as the Tenderloin — and they will come with added counseling, a crucial element for helping people stay inside. The new units are also to be partly funded by private donations, and the nonprofit HomeBase is conducting an exhaustive study to locate available spots for the city to lease. Street counselors have long said that if you can deal with whole communities instead of individuals, the whole process of getting to a stable life moves more quickly — and Dufty found this out firsthand in 2013 when the then-biggest encampment in the city, a sprawling mound of tents and trash at the Interstate 280 on-ramp alongside the Caltrain station, was broken up. All 30 campers were put up in a church auditorium for almost a week instead of just being offered housing vouchers or shelter beds, and within days all but five had been moved into permanent spots. A similar effort involving Pathways to Housing in Philadelphia has moved 450 severely mentally ill homeless people inside over six years, and the one-stop Connections Housing center in San Diego reduced homelessness downtown by more than half after it opened in 2013. “It’s actually a brilliant idea to bring in a displaced community of people,” Chris Simiriglia, Pathways’ executive director, said of San Francisco’s plan. Ray Bramson, homeless services manager for San Jose, likes the concept of one-stop help complexes such as the Navigation Center, although he warns it can be hard maintaining funding and that getting all the agencies to coordinate can be “like herding cats.”
Hari Sreenivasan reads viewer comments about a recent NewsHour Weekend segment on Beligum's euthanasia law, the least restrictive law governing physician-assisted suicide in the world. Continue reading →
Applicants with criminal backgrounds, including those with nonviolent criminal convictions or even arrests, are increasingly being driven into poverty. Even if it has been years since they've served time for past criminal infractions, those applying for jobs are often unable to find work -- especially in a climate of extreme job competition. NewsHour's Stephen Fee reports. Continue reading →
As the saga of the Silk Road has unfolded over the last four years, everyone has had an opinion about the unprecedented, billion-dollar online narcotics bazaar, from press to politicians to prosecutors. Even the pseudonymous mastermind of the site, the Dread Pirate Roberts, gave an interview and posted many thousands of words to the Silk…
King Abdullah's writ lasted all of 12 hours . Within that period the Sudairis, a rich and politically powerful clan within the House of Saud, which had been weakened by the late king, burst back into prominence. They produced a palace coup in all but name.
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