Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bayview surprise: NIMBY about the homeless?

New mural at Mother Brown's, by Shawn Bullen
The debate about that 100-bed facility proposed to serve Mother Brown's Kitchen's homeless clients on Jennings and Van Dyke is still raging.

At yesterday's full Board of Supervisors' meeting, the Budget Committee recommended acceptance of the nearly $1M in state funding for the plan.  A vote was postponed, however, until Tuesday, November 19th to give those who object to the plan time to explore other locations for homeless services that are not in Bayview Hunters Point.

Changing the service delivery site is a long shot since project funding was tied to the Mother Brown's location early in the proposal process, and could be lost altogether.

The process itself, one that has cornered the Board of Supervisors into a choice between risking needed funds or voting against the wishes of vocal neighborhood residents, seems to have stung  locals as much as the possibility of new homeless beds in the neighborhood.

The resolution under consideration is put forward by Mayor Lee.  It "authorizes the Human Services Agency to enter into a $978,000 forgivable loan agreement from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to renovate the leased premises at 2115 Jennings Street for use as a 100 bed homeless shelter."

At last Wednesday's Board of Supervisors' Budget Committee meeting, when the committee voted unanimously to accept the state grant, District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar noted that the public comment was markedly different than what he had heard from Bayview advocates in the past.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Heather Knight picked up on the story, and quoted several locals and public officials in her column "Voice of NIMBYs is heard citywide."

Here's a sampling of what was said:

"Sometimes humanity has to trump process." Trent Rhorer, Director of the Human Services Agency

"It shows a divide between residents that have been there for a long time versus people who've come in over the last few years and are part of the gentrification," he said. "They're not ready to see the suffering going on around them. They seem to be oblivious to it." D1 Supervisor Eric Mar 

"They're very concerned about adding yet more poverty and despair for children to see," she said. "The city has not anticipated the change in the kind of families that are moving here."  Alka Joshi, BRITE Communications Director and Bayview resident

"How can it be a NIMBY battle when we're talking about a community that has transitional housing, that has a shelter at Providence Church, that has the Salvation Army and Mother Brown's?" D10 Supervisor Malia Cohen 

Other media outlets have picked up on the story, too.

"I feel safer on this particular block than I do a few blocks away where they have liquor stores, instead of a homeless shelter.  And Mother Brown's is part of the community."  Sarah Weber, Bayview resident who lives across the street from Mother Brown's, as quoted on KALW radio on October 30th.

"Our agency collected 1,500 signatures supporting the first facility for the homeless in Bayview Hunters Point to be equipped with beds."  Gwendolyn Westbrook, United Council of Human Services in San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, October 30th.

The recent debate about homeless services in Bayview has been underway with residents for some time.  Amy Clark, who lives near Mother Brown's, sent a letter to Bevan Dufty that stated: "...if the city is committed to improving the neighborhood for EVERYONE, including the old and the new Bayview, it should be committed to supporting the new shelter beyond creating space, but including proper security and oversight."

Other residents, especially long-timers, are braced against a tide that seems to be eroding a cultural cornerstone. They are anxious about losing a place where vulnerable populations of people have found a foothold since the early days of European immigrants."  It's What Community Looks Like, March 6th 

Also see a roundup of homelessness resources in the neighborhood on It's What Community Looks Like.

1 comment:

Tracy Z. said...

Thank you for covering this issue, Bayview Footprints. Whether people see it or not, homelessness is a HUGE issue in our neighborhood, and we need to be showing compassion, not fearmongering or hate (there's enough of that in other parts of the city).

Homelessness isn't just people on the street but also families, elders, and disabled people who haven't had permanent housing or is couchsurfing or going in and out of shelters or friends/family's places. This shelter is one more place of temporary relief. Albeit, it's not a permanent solution but it's one piece of a range of solutions we need to be providing to our vulnerable folks so that they're not out in the cold, overstaying their welcome in family/friends' places, or competing for a space in the already packed shelters in other places in the city.

Please show compassion for our WHOLE community that is a part of Bayview.