A homeless encampment in San Francisco's Mission District.

More than 2,100 people in San Francisco are chronically homeless, meaning that they’ve been on the street for at least a year and have a mental health, substance abuse or other condition that prevents them from working or finding housing. According to San Francisco’s 2017 homeless count, the number of chronically homeless has risen about 30 percent since 2015. But city officials are betting that a new $100 million pledge from the local anti poverty group Tipping Point Community will make a difference. The group’s initiative, which officially launches on July 1, aims to cut the number of chronically homeless in half over five years by building new permanent housing and expanding mental health services. As part of KQED’s weeklong coverage of homelessness in the Bay Area, we’ll look at the new ways San Francisco plans to address the complex needs of the chronically homeless.

Guests:

Jeff Kositsky, director, San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing
Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder, Tipping Point Community

Fueled by $100 Million Donation, San Francisco Aims to Reduce Chronically Homeless Population by Half 29 June,2017Michael Krasny

  • Sincereradical

    What a crock. Where was Nancy Pelosi and others the last twenty years? Homelessness should have been ended many moons ago. The class structure of SF just hates the poor, why blacks are being moved out. This is Jim Crow with a liberal patina. What politician has ever said, it is immoral to have people living on the streets and we should end this scourge now? I forgot, arresting people who trespass was the answer. bah

  • Sincereradical

    Where’s the rich gay community on this issue? Hiding behind rainbow propaganda.

  • Kurt thialfad

    After you help these 2,100 chronic homeless, how do you prevent 2,100 new chronic homeless from replacing them? The bandaid approach is not a permanent solution.

  • giulia

    I REALLY want to change the perception that ALL homeless are mentally ill our have drug issues: the fastest growing homeless population are single elder women who call into the 55 to 65 year old assistance gap. I became ill at 61, could no longer work, became disabled, and on SSI cannot live a life with dignity.I have lived in my van ever since, except when others hosted me in their homes for short periods, out of compassion. Plus, if I lose mediCal, I REALLY will be in trouble and not even have medical assistance.I applied for Section 8 housing 2 years ago. Not a whisper… The elder women who bore and brought up today’s children should be assisted in having a life with dignity.

    • Justice?

      I REALLY REALLY want to dispel the delusion that “homelessness” is a symptom that, if treated with housing will manage, treat, or cure, the diverse syndromes that share this visible symptom. There are infinite paths to homelessness, but few that emerge from it: making regular payments to a landlord or lender, exchanging services for shelter, receiving shelter as charity. Pouring money into NGOs or government bureaucracies in one location, until it trickles down to clients who can flock to it is as efficient here as it is in the third world. Airdrops increased by frequency and size to one location in a desert cannot reverse a drought. Until we evolve together into a reality where not only health care, but shelter is a human right, then anyone unable or unwilling to take the paths that sustain their housing for diverse reasons, will continue to share homelessness as a symptom.

  • kareninsf

    I hear rumors a lot of people come to San Francisco because they offer so many services….. remember that mental hospital in Nevada that gave people bus tickets here in the recent past?

  • ES Trader

    All creatures migrate to food and shelter, why not remove the source of that attracts the homeless?

    $100 million, what impact would that have to fund walking beat cops on safety in The City ?!

  • amyj1276

    I have to walk through one tent camp twice a day between my parking lot and my office and it’s insane. It’s only one tent, but there are 4-5 people and they take up the entire sidewalk. Many days we pedestrians have to walk into the busy street to walk around. And the smell is so bad that I have actually thrown up from it. I’ve called both 311 and the nonemergency policy at least a dozen times and they do absolutely nothing. Is this really our new San Francisco? No wonder this city has such a hard time keeping families!

    • amyj1276

      I should add that the issues discussed should not be an either/or: We should be maximizing our dollars and focusing on housing and services by any means necessary while also not tolerating our streets being taken over by these tent camps. As one of the guests mentioned, and with which I completely agree, there’s nothing progressive about this. We should be thinking about large open areas where we can have all of the tents with portable toilets and shower facilities, as well as on-site services similar to what they do at Stand-Down events. But that also includes strict prohibition and actually enforcing the laws about tent camps and using the streets and trees as personal bathrooms and leaving syringes on our streets, etc., etc. In addition (not “or”), we should be figuring out how to reign in the housing costs AND commercial rents (who can afford a $15 burger?), subsidize childcare, raise the minimum wage, and follow other common-sense policies that create a strong middle class.

  • EIDALM

    While we have extreme poverty across the country, the fact is the U S today is richer than ever but near all of that wealth was shifted to the few hands on the top and greedy corporations and goons of the Wall Street, but near every one else is suffering, All of the wealth was in effect stolen from the masses by the Wall Street and their constant sucking the money through their bubble after bubble economy, their loan sharks through their credit cards, and their criminal casino they call the stock market….with all of that the best way to solve the great inequality, poverty, and homelessness inflicted on the American people is TO PUT CEILING ON WEALTH let us say 100 million dollars per person and do some thing similar on the corporate network and force them to keep their money and assets in the U S and stop evading to pay their fair share of taxes….Short of that the robbery of the American people continue and we all are on downward spiral of losing every thing including our country as well.because of the greed of the few.

  • Ben Rawner

    Isn’t spending on the homeless a double edge sword? The more the city spends it seems the more homeless people show up for services. I agree that something must be done, but it does not seem to be getting better. Structurally the US has let the bottom fall out and CA is the Mecca for the homeless.

  • Kepler34380

    $80,000 per homeless person is a lot of money. If you can’t make progress with our homeless population issues with that much funding, something is fundamentally wrong with our strategy. Throwing money at the problem is obviously not the solution. Stop the “progressive” propaganda. The majority of our homeless population are not mentally ill. To be effective, it will be necessary to have smart strategy for the large homeless population that prefers to be homeless. What about showing compassion to the SF residents? The tax payers in this city are outraged. There are no more victims in this country. Those days are over. We need an intelligent solution and the speakers on this show are more of the failing status quo.

    • amyj1276

      Agreed. I would add that the one size fits all approach never works. There are hundreds of reasons why people are homeless. Each of those reasons needs to be addressed individually.

    • Another Mike

      People would rather sleep on flattened cardboard in a store entryway, with all their worldly goods in a shopping cart, than have a rainproof place to live, with a kitchen?

  • Kepler34380

    The speaker just said “there may be 1 or 2 people that take advantage of the SF homeless programs”. What a bunch of BS. KQED needs to do a better job finding smarter people to represent our homeless issue.

  • Julie Wright

    For those of us who pay for housing, we don’t necessarily have access to every neighborhood. We have to choose something in our budget. I think we need to move beyond the idea that people have the right to live in a particular specific place they cannot afford and provide an alternative location that can have services and support, even if it’s not their first choice neighborhood.

    • Another Mike

      I don’t think anyone is building housing for the chronically homeless in St. Francis Wood or Sea Cliff.

  • Another Mike

    I would like to give a shout out to Mercy Housing for their ability to operate supportive housing for the chronically homeless.

  • Robstar

    For shame, Michael, pushing the narrative that “many” people game/exploit the system without evidence. I’m glad your guest pushed back.

  • ES Trader

    The 2 guests need to disclose their salaries, they have an economic incentive to keep funding & expans expendutures.

  • Kepler34380

    Nonsense. It’s absolutely true that a large percentage of the homeless population want to be homeless and engaged in criminal activity. Denial of that fact is exactly how and why SF spends so much money on the homeless with nothing to show for it. Jeff Kositsky and Daniel Lurie represent our failing homeless initiative. They are the failing status quo. It’s disappointing that KQED is not challenging them with facts.

    • Robstar

      Why do you believe that? Maybe you could share your sources and win some of us over.

    • Another Mike

      The logical conclusion of this argument is that because the homeless make senseless choices, they need our help.

  • jakeleone

    Jobs only exist when there is a profit to be made, otherwise no job. Unless the government makes the job. But our government only collects property (hard assets), sales tax, some fees/tariffs, death and income taxes. And even though it is doing that, it still goes into the hole about trillion dollars a year.

    Volunteer positions only exist when people have time and health and willingness to do the volunteer job. Why can’t volunteer efforts be the qualification for saving someone from homelessness? If you can walk the street, you can sweep the street.

    If a homeless person keeps his area clean, they can stay there.

    This would require only minimum cost from city governments. Install a bathroom, train a homeless person to care for it. If they care for it, they can stay. But that never happens, because oversight requires a city employee, with union benefits, and a license… That’s part of the reason we never solve the homeless problem. We fail, because we over-engineer the solution, everytime. And that over-engineering costs money, results in higher per unit housing cost, even if that unit is a tent on the street.

    Finally, some homeless are disabled either by drugs or by chronic diseases. Okay those people need help. But if there is no profit in giving that help, then government and volunteers must do the job, industry won’t do the job.

    Spending hundreds of millions to build apartments or buy housing wreaks of all the cronyism that causes government budgets to balloon and sky rocket. Yes, it results in initially good and acceptable solutions (if funded and completed), but it often ends up just being another project paradise, when the funding fails to materialize or the tennants fail to be able to keep up their homes. We go back to square one.

  • John

    The homeless should get better organized and lead an armed rebellion against the capitalist system.

  • James L

    I applaud the one caller for expanding the scope of the issue to include some of the federal government’s policy changes since the late 70’s, mainly the cuts in funding to departments like HUD. In my opinion Forum in the past has failed to give more weight to the greater context of the housing issue. What one also does not hear included in the discussion both today and in the past are the effects of excessive inflows of people into the country and state. High demand for housing drives up prices and excessive labor drives down wages, it’s simple supply and demand. I personally support a diverse society in the practice of my life and consider myself liberal. But it seems like there is no room for having a discussion on a major driving force behind the excess demand for housing, population growth. I resent and perhaps others do to that there is no room for nuance on the issue on the left for the desire to have a slower rate of population growth without being painted as insensitive and wish Forum to take the greater context into account effecting the number of the homeless of our fellow citizens.

  • Brad

    It’s really ignorant and irresponsible for the guest to pretend that the homeless don’t steal bikes. That’s not to say that all homeless steal bikes and that all bikes are stolen by the homeless, but anyone can see that many, if not more than 50% of homeless encampments are surrounded by piles of bike parts and there are several open-air bike chop shops operated by the homeless throughout the city. Denial isn’t helping anyone.

  • De Blo

    We know that homeless problems are caused by the homeless industrial complex. As long as we keep throwing money at the homeless and not enforcing our sit-lie laws against criminals, then homeless people will continue migrating to our City and hurting San Franciscans.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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