Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A decent reform measure is gone.

OK, if you're outside San Francisco you can skip this blog item, unless you've fallen for the pretense that SF is some kind of "national model" on homelessness policy (it isn't), in which case read on.

A little background: the "Care Not Cash" aspect of San Francisco's County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) has been manifestly unfair for years. As a matter of long-term regulation and practice, it has forced moneyless childless adults to accept shelter beds -- or, after they endure enough nights in shelters, residential hotel rooms -- in lieu of a still-measly four hundred something dollars that, heavens, they might otherwise spend as they see fit. "Care Not Cash" recently got more unfair with attempts to collect reimbursement out of retro disability benefits for the "value" of those purgatorial shelter nights.

Just a week ago, my district supervisor, Jane Kim, was among the leading supporters of a ballot initiative to take shelters out of the "Care Not Cash" program's definition of "housing." This was a humane reform that would have forced the city to give CAAP benefit recipients either money to live on or a real hotel room to live in, while freeing up shelter beds for the even needier population of people who can't or don't qualify for CAAP aid.

According to this morning's gloating Chronicle report, suddenly there's no measure on the ballot because Jane Kim and another ex- civil rights lawyer, Eric Mar, pulled their support from it.

I phoned Supervisor Kim's office to complain and had a sad little conversation with an aide who, returning from an absence, sounded a little surprised at the change herself. She had heard there would be a substitute proposal to make more shelter beds available earlier in the evening to people who weren't in the "Care Not Cash" program. Nice as far as it goes but I'm not sure (and neither was the aide) what that's supposed to do for people who do qualify for county "Care Not Cash" benefits and who do labor under the delusion that a program with "care" in its name might give a flying slap about them.

And now here's the sad part. The aide said mine was the first call they had received in favor of the dead ballot measure.

This damn town.

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