Newsom Homeless Plan; Truth or Lies


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Newsom delivers his State of the Homeless address while he de-funds crucial homeless services

by Clive Whistle and Tiny/PNN

It was 7:30 am. The morning air whipped through my congested lungs, I could barely control the fluid that poured out of my nose, eyes and lungs simultaneously. I was waiting in line for the Tom Waddell urgent care clinic to open, my only health care choice as a very low-income, houseless San Franciscan with no insurance. But I wasn’t complaining, notwithstanding the long line of other poor folks like myself waiting in the icy morning air to get in the clinic, I could be sure that I would be seen by a doctor before lunch and get treated with respect in the process.

The Tom Waddell clinic which serves as an entry point to approximately 8000 people a year, who like me have no other health care option and are NOT being treated anywhere else is on Mayor Gavin Newsom’s chopping block, set to suffer 1.8 million dollars in cuts from the clinics’ annual budget. With these cuts the clinic will be forced to close their urgent care clinic, cuts that Newsom attributes to the defeat of propositions J and K.

The sickening aspect of these proposed cuts is that Newsom became mayor on the backs of homeless people, promising to classist, racist and/or clueless San Franciscan voters, "I will get rid of the homeless problem" launching the myth-ridden anti-homeless people legislation; Care Not Cash which has only served to make the lives of most homeless San Franciscans worse, not better.

"They are trying to turn everything into a resource center" said LS Wilson in the November 22nd edition of the Bayview in this reporters’ story on the funding shell game played with The Tenderloin Self-help Center. Before J and K inspired funding cuts were even mentioned Newsom decided to dismantle the self-help center, which like Tom Waddell is another extremely important frontline service for homeless and very low-income folks, providing everything from counseling to job training to a hot meal. His precursor to those cuts were to transfer the program from the department of Public health who has successfully managed it for the last 19 years to the murkey land of Department of Human Services who means to turn everything into a Care not Cash wasteland of useless resource centers that only provide people with "referrals" rather than crucial services

And lets not forget the crucial role of the corporate media in the myth-building process. Splashed above the fold in this Sundays’ San Francisco Chronicle was the series; Shame of the City, with confusing double talk lines like; Eleven months after Newsom took office with San Francisco’s crisis of homelessness his top priority, the flurry of efforts he put in motion has modest, but real, progress, now while one sifted through this Gavin love-piece it is important to note that the Chronicle was one of Gavin’s biggest supporters in his mayoral campaign. Why because the chronicle is, like all corporate media, owned by a corporation, in this case the Hearst corporation which has its interests with developers and big business, which is where Newsoms real interests lie.

"The new homeless program is all about power washing, barricades and police" As I walked through our tenderloin neighborhood with Clive Whistle, a PNN staff writer who lived homelessly in San Francisco and Oakland up to 9 months ago, we passed barricade after barricade in Downtown San Francisco especially prevalent in the neighborhoods set for redevelopment by Newsoms big business friends. Clive was breaking down the truth behind Newsoms plan "The new "clean-up" effort, and don’t be mistaken, by "clean-up" they are talking about getting rid of people, starts with these big power washing machines that come through with hoses and trucks and then they lay out barricades and if you sit next to the barricades you get a citation for blocking the sidewalk."

Clive went on to remind me to make the point that this new homeless "clean-up" plan was just another example of the " corporatization" of US mayors who are following the template laid out by former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani that power washed his city into a mini-disneyland, with no pesky sex workers, panhandlers or peddlers, a city mickey mouse could "safely" walk through and huge corporations could thrive, paying their workers slave wages globally and locally.

Clive and I were walking to Newsoms First Annual State of the Homeless Address. An address that Clive said should have been re-named The State of Newsoms Propaganda "Project Connect will take 50 keys out to the street and give them to 50 homeless people so they can be housed", was one of Newsoms wondrous promises in his address, to which Jacki Jenks, executive director of Hospitality House which runs the at-risk Self-help center replied, " If we had 50 keys at our disposal we would give them to homeless people…

In other words, Newsoms so-called 10 year plan to end homelessness was already written many years prior by homeless and formerly homeless folks as the Continuum of Care plan but it was never instituted cause it wasn’t written by a big business politician backed by Gettys

He listed all the work that his outreach teams have done, but nothing about his other outreach teams, i.e., the power washers and the police. He asked service providers to be more accountable and in the same breath said lies like the fact that his "project connect" program doesn’t cost the city a penny, even though it is staffed by all the Department of Human Services folks . He said he was dedicated to getting women, seniors and families off the streets but he didn’t mention the unspoken anti-homeless senior policy of prioritizing shelter beds for able bodied folks on General Assistance and making it next to impossible for folks on SSI ( mostly seniors and women) to get into the shelter beds they used to be able to sleep in. And finally, with a little nudge to Tom Waddell and Hospitality House, both in the community for many years, he said, "just because a program has been around for a long time doesn’t mean you are solving a problem. To which I would respond, just because a program is new, shiny and differently named, i.e., Care Not Cash, doesn’t mean you are solving a problem.

In the end, Clive and I agreed, if Newsom really wants to help homeless folks and not just help his reputation he wouldn’t be dismantling the very urgently needed homeless services like Tom Waddell and The Self-Help Center. Its that simple

A budget hearing will be held on Wednesday, December 8th @1:00pm at room 263 of City Hall on the proposed closure of The Self Help Center and a candlelight vigil for homeless services will be held at 5:30 pm the same day. For more journalism on the lies of Care Not Cash written by the folks directly affected by it go-online to ww.poormagazine.org

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