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June 6, 2003


Coalition on Homelessness: Lies Behind Proposition N Exposed

Emergency Legislation Bans Kicking Out Seniors, Disabled, and Working People from Shelters Under Prop N

San Francisco ­ The San Francisco Board of Supervisors City Services Committee held a hearing Thursday to consider legislation entitled "Preservation of Emergency Nature of Shelter." The legislation was passed on to the full board for approval without recommendation. Supervisor Newsom indicated he would oppose this anti-displacement legislation.

The legislation would prohibit the city from discriminating against homeless people based on income source. The Board chambers was packed with supporters who fear that the most vulnerable homeless people will be pushed out onto the streets to make room for welfare recipients under Proposition N. This would force Department of Human Services to change its implementation plan for Proposition N "care not cash," which includes plans to prioritize welfare recipients. The DHS plan also mandated extended stays in city shelters for welfare recipients and allows only one-night stays for not-on-welfare recipients.

Displacement fears first surfaced when community members learned that the Department of Human Services was planning on prioritizing shelter beds for welfare recipients, offering welfare recipients 43-day stays, and not-on-welfare recipients only one-night stays in city-funded emergency-shelter beds. This proposal was brought forward as part of the implementation plan for Proposition N, the hotly contested initiative that would cut 85% of cash assistance to homeless single adults. Under Proposition N, Human Services may cut welfare checks for housing, food, and utilities available "in-kind" by the city.

There are between 8,640 and 12,000 homeless men, women, and children in San Francisco, 3,000 of who are affected by Proposition N. At the same time, 1,350 shelter beds for single adults exist in San Francisco. Community members and homeless people are concerned that prioritizing CAAP recipients will displace seniors, immigrants, people with disabilities, working people, and people with no income from the shelter system.

According to Jason Negron-Gonzalez of People Organized to Win Employment Rights, "The emergency shelter system should remain just that. It should be preserved for those most in need of it ­- those that are medically fragile, those who are disabled, those trying to maintain employment. It should not be co-opted by single-minded bureaucrats who wish only to reduce welfare grants, regardless of the consequences."

Proposition N was approved by voters last November in a deluge of advertising and promises of care. Part of it was overturned in courts and is now being considered by the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor McGoldrick’s legislation will go to a vote at the full Board of Supervisors on July 8, 2003.