Homeless Shelter Residents Displaced
Episcopal Sanctuary Closed for Renovations
Coalition on Homelessness
Only one week following the City's much heralded,
extensive outreach effort to connect chronically homeless people with city
services, residents of Episcopal Sanctuary — one of the largest
city-funded shelters in San Francisco — learned that they would be
forcibly relocated to locations unknown on Tuesday, October 19, 2004.
The Sanctuary was being closed Tuesday for an
unspecified period to accomplish long-planned renovations. Although
several vaguely worded flyers had circulated in the facility, advising
residents of impending "very important meetings," most of the Sanctuary's
residents were stunned to learn that they had less than 24 hours notice
before they were required to relocate to makeshift accommodations at other
shelters. As of 4 pm Monday, most Sanctuary residents still didn't know
where they would be transferred, echoing memories of a similar debacle
when the City suddenly closed a temporary emergency shelter at Mission
Rock during Mayor Willie Brown's administration. Similar to that
well-documented fiasco, most Sanctuary residents did not know where they
would be sleeping on Tuesday, or even how they would transport their
belongings from the Sanctuary to storage at the City's 150 Otis Street
Former Episcopal Sanctuary resident Paul Thomas
Cahill, age 60, was worried. "Shelter residents are being forced to move
and store their belongings at 150 Otis Street, just in time for this
winter's first big rain storm."
Forty-two-year-old Episcopal resident Kenneth Johnson
was angry. "Since Care Not Cash has taken over these [shelter] facilities,
the system is stacked against people like me, who are only trying to find
work, real housing, and transportation. How is Care Not Cash helping me
get off the streets?"
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt
Gonzalez was scheduled to introduce long-awaited legislation Tuesday,
October 19, 2004 to create a Shelter Monitoring Committee, providing
public oversight of shelter conditions and policies. If such an oversight
body were already in place, residents of Episcopal Sanctuary would have
been better informed and prepared for their relocation. Sanctuary
residents planned to attend the hearing and voice their displeasure that
they weren't given adequate time to prepare for their mandatory move.
Paul Boden, Executive Director of the Coalition on
Homelessness, observed, "It's ironic that if any private landlord had
handled a tenant relocation effort this poorly, informing those affected
as a seeming afterthought, the City Attorney would likely sue them. After
22 years of the City operating homeless shelters, it's not very
encouraging to see they still haven't learned to accomplish a simple
relocation plan without creating needless drama and upheaval in these
homeless people's lives."
more information, contact Paul Boden, Jennifer Friedenbach, or Chance
Martin at 415 346 3740.