Former San Francisco supervisor and mayoral hopeful Bevan Dufty has been appointed as the “Homelessness Czar” of San Francisco. He joins us to discuss his ideas, including how we should be more lenient with homeless alcoholics.

Bevan Dufty, director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement in San Francisco

  • wda

    Given Mr. Dufty’s intended policy to be more lenient with homeless alcoholics and allow them shelter even if they haven’t quit drinking, I’d like to know what his qualifications are (other than serving as a legislative aide) regarding chemical dependancy and the treatment of chronic alcoholics.

    I’d also like to ask Mr. Dufty if he is aware that his policy proposals mimic that of “codependency” or the unhealthy love and a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways towards an addict that negatively impacts one’s relationship’s and quality of life as well as that of the addict?

    Historically, the concept of codependence comes directly out of Alcoholics Anonymous, part of a dawning realization that the problem of alcoholism was not solely the addict, but also the family and friends who constitute a network of dependence for the alcoholic.

    Isn’t Mr. Dufty’s policy proposal just another form of societal codependancy?

    Wouldn’t it be smarter for San Francisco and Mr. Dufty to advocate for harsher penalties for chronic drunks, which could lead to institutionalization for 1-2 years and a drying out period, then followed by direct social community support.  Surely the SF Sherriff’s department could direct such a program.

    I believe this would save more lives.

    • Amanda Kahn Fried

      There has been years of research about treatment of alcoholism and other addiction. In San Francisco, there are 225 people costing the City over $12 million in services including police, ambulance, ER, etc. This approach clearly needs improvement both in terms of outcomes for individuals, and to keep faith with the public who are financing these interventions. The Journal of Public Health published a study that shows the average resident of Seattle’s wet housing reduced their alcohol consumption by 40 percent, and that there was a significant reduction in 911 calls (and related hospital transfers).

      • Picantecaliente

        My partner’s sister is a firefighter paramedic for the SFFD and she said they spend the bulk of their time responding to calls dealing with the same alcoholics on the streets.  

  • DanielAyer

    I used to work for a Davis Community Meals, ahomeless shelter in Davis while attending UC Davis.  There is a misconception about what helping the homeless means.  We do not need one form of support in lieu of another.  In winter we provided beds for about 16 people.  This was just a means of keeping them off the streets where they might have otherwise died or become ill.  We also had a transitional housing program which helped people get clean and sober and back on their feet.  Both have very different criteria for entry, and both served very different purposes.
    There is the need to address the basic existence needs for these people.  Those concerns higher up on Masloe’s hierarchy should come secondary to keeping people safe and off the streets.

  • Christopher C.

    Please ask Mr. Dufty if he has any ideas about how to deal with the sanitation situation in neighborhoods with large homeless populations. I live in the Polk Gulch neighborhood just north of the Tenderloin, and I daily encounter piles of human feces in the streets and alleyways. Entryways are frequently popular spots for make-shift outhouses. Anyone who walks in this neighborhood has to be vigilant about each and every step or risk carrying stench and disease on the soles of the shoes. Homeless people do all the same things people with housing do, but they do them in the street. What specific steps will Bevin Dufty take to provide sanitation facilities for homeless people so that they won’t have to do number 2 on the pavement?

    • Amanda Kahn Fried

      I appreciate your concern both for your neighborhood, and for the individuals who may not have access to sanitation facilities.

      Bevan’s number one priority is to get people off the streets and into safe housing however possible. 

      Not everyone is willing or able to move inside. Our City needs to pull  advocates, police and the DA together to make sure that where appropriate, we are using the neighborhood court system and community justice center as a means to get people into treatment and housing. 

      And, I also encourage you to work closely with the Department of Public Works. Dariush Kayhan, the former Czar of Homelessness is now the head of street cleaning– he is a fantastic resource to help people and keep streets clean.  

      • Abonic

        Hi Amanda,
        I really like the suggestion of handing out business size cards of resources like where to get a good meal and take a shower, etc.  Like Devra, I look forward to seeing you and Bevan in a couple of weeks.

  • olive

    Have your heard of a housing project in Minneapolis?  I think it is funded by Catholic Charities and County money. It’s a small housing project, 30 or so men.  It appears to be a cost effective of way of dealing with these hard core  alcoholics.

    • Amanda Kahn Fried

      Yes, thank you. It is an excellent model, and one of the programs we are looking at.

  • maryf

    On the topic of housing capacity, is there any effort to track how many housing units in San Francisco are being used as “vacation rentals” and  basically off the market for housing?

  • Kevin A. Madden

    Hi Mr. Dufty.

    Unlike some callers & writers, I find you well qualified…but the problem is for me your answer moments ago acknowledging that Berlin has no significant homeless program, and then explaining how I and other San Franciscans should do this and that.

    I don’t want to. I want to put my energy elsewhere.

    What I WOULD like is what I asked Mayor Brown for some years ago – a handout card that lists all local resources for a homeless person. I’d like to give them a list of where they can eat, bathe, and sleep rather than money.

  • Charly

    Equip old buses with shower and laundry facalities like they do when there is a natural disaster – to be able to start the day clean – a positive start to the day – after that it seems it needs to be a one person at a time effort – I have been in working in USQ area for nearly 30 years and you see the same people sometimes for years on end, I do pick one person that I occasionally give money to when I see them

  • Gil

    being an alcoholic myself I know until someone gets sick and tired of being sick they will never make the decision to get sober.  Giving even a dollar for food or a sandwich or whatever further enables their addiciton and prevents them from being sick of their circumstances.  What kind of programs or requirments are proposed for the shelters to work on recovery

  • Sails

    Although homelessness from chronic disease and addictions is certainly an important problem deserving of attention, I think Mr. Duffy needs to also focus on the many new homeless who may be older, sane, without addictions, but the victims of aggressive property flipping and contrived OMIs.

    I lived in a rent-protected apartment in San Francisco nearly 30 years and recently was made homeless by a property flipping team who engineered an OMI.    I was just shy in age of the protected status, and I ended up losing my work because the disruption in my time schedule from the move, and have no near term work prospect because of both my age and economy.  

    My only reasonable option was to put my belongings in storage and go homeless, living in my car, because my annual income at the time was sufficient for my apartment but not for current market rate apartments. Of course I no longer even had that income, – just the settlement amount I was given. I was also told there is a long waiting list for the small apartments the City maintains for low-income residents. But without immediate income, would they even accept me?

    What about those who are homeless with a car?  I now have chronic problems arising from sleep disruption because police frequently ask people sleeping in cars to move on. Although I lost my paid work, I still volunteer locally, so I need to remain in the area. And I continue to look for new work, but without an address that is more difficult. But even if I do find new work, it likely won’t pay for an apartment large enough for my household of 30 years.

    SFGate recently reported there are more real estate investors in the Bay Area today than during the housing boom.   My apartment was bought by an out-of-town owner who, for the purposes of the OMI, was ready to claim my apartment was his primary residence when he had a home 4 times larger for several years elsewhere.   And he was not selling his first home. 

    What about the loss of rental housing now being gutted by investors?   

    There are many facets of homelessness and not just homelessness due to mental illness.

    • Amanda Kahn Fried

      Thank you for sharing your story. This is a huge concern for our City, and the Mayor is working hard to create a Housing Trust Fund that will be on November’s ballot. Please see this link or contact me for more information:

      In the near-term, there are resources to help. Every Day Connect is a hotline to connect you to holistic services including housing, financial services, and employment. They can be reached at 855-588-7968. 

  • Devra Edelman

    Thank you Bevan for referring the woman who called in about housing for families and those with primarily economic barriers to housing to 3-1-1 and Rapid Re-Housing solutuons. I am the Deputy Director of Programs for Hamilton Family Center and want to point out the importance of having both homelessness prevention services and housing subsidies that support rapdly re-housing households ~ as well as a centralized process to assess the needs of households and match them with the housing solutions tht fit ~ whetther that be “wet” housing, short-term rental subsidies or more deeply affordable subsidized housing. ~ I look forward to meeting you and your team at HFC next week! ~ Devra Edelman

  • Amanda Kahn Fried

    Thank you all for your comments and interest in this work. My name is Amanda Fried, and I am Bevan’s Deputy Director for Policy. I am more than happy to answer questions about the proposals he spoke about, and we will monitoring this discussion for new ideas and feedback. Please also feel free to email us: amanda.fried@sfgov dot org and bevan.dufty@sfgov dot org, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

  • Barbara

    I listened to the radio program and was very impressed with what I heard. I felt particularly moved because I had an uncle who ended up drunk and homeless and died because of it. World war 2 was the start of his problems.
     I was particularly interested in the idea of wet housing. To accept that there are people who need help and cannot at this time dry out so as to be able to get into a program, is realistic and compassionate, as well as economic good sense. I wish you luck with that particular program.

  • Robert

    May I make the modest proposal that all City officials receive their pay in vouchers for food and other basic needs? I have seen supervisors in bars drinking. How do we know they won’t spend their City salaries on developing/exacerbating drinking and/or drug problems? If it’s ok for the poor, why not for those who make the policies?

  • Hope

     Unfortunately I came into the program late. I have lived in all the shelters here–at two different times for three months each but live independently now in the Tenderloin. I am a 50-something, college-educated, single mother and had a successful career in high tech with no mental health issues nor addiction issues. I had no where else to go after two years of being unemployed and no remaining assets. No jobs and age discrimination out there regardless of skills. It was a harrowing, heart-rendering and enlightening experience living in the shelters.The roots of the homeless problem here in SF stem from lack of affordable housing, addiction to alcohol/drugs,mental health issues not being addressed nor monitored, denial and non-compliance with medication. All of this becomes cyclical leading to mayhem, isolation, abuse in many forms, physical illness and sometimes death, even suicide. And living in the shelters perpetuates it. It is like living in a JAIL but without the bars (and I have never been to jail). I developed PTSD as a result of it. Our country has serious systemic problems and the “powers at be” are oblivious and do not give a !@#$$% about the 99%! I hope that Bevan and the City of SF can effect positive change here to help those who cannot help themselves. They deserve a reasonable quality of life also! God bless us all…

  • Hope

    An added comment: I believe strongly that if Mr. Duffy is able to effect additional housing for the addicted homeless that they NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRINK OR USE IN THE FACILITY! THE NON-USE SHOULD BE A CONDITION ATTACHED FOR PROVIDING SUCH SERVICES! The emotional abuse and resulting PTSD I suffered from while living in the shelters was primarily due to the chronic conflicts, verbal and physical, between clients (residents) and with staff. These were the instigators for all the chaos and disruption day and night in the shelters. These people still need to be held accountable and the other residents should not have to suffer from this type of indirect abuse.

  • Allan

    I missed this show and would really like to listen to it, but the audio link is not showing up.  Could you post the recording please?

  • Some folks wonder how homeless people can afford to have a smart phone.  In today’s economy, a smart phone is many times cheaper than market rate housing; especially in San Francisco where housing is most expensive.

  • disqus_uOdI5UR5cp

    MRSDHASTY also has a great plan for San francisco Homeless…

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