San Francisco’s Homeless Problem: Where’s The Money Going?

HOMELESSNESS – ALL OVER THE HEADLINES THIS WEEK… AND THIS EVENING – WE ARE GOING TO ANSWER A QUESTION MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR YEARS NOW. IF SAN FRANCISCO SPENDS NEARLY A QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS ON THE HOMELESS EVERY YEAR – WHY ARE STILL THERE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LIVING ON THE STREET? WHERE DOES THAT MONEY GO – AND HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK – OR NOT WORK? KPIX 5’S WILSON WALKER TAKES IT ALL APART FOR US. {{Dennis Wagner “It’s the result of programs that are not working. Not to anyone’s satisfaction.” WELL IT’S HARD TO ARGUE WITH THAT, BUT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND HOW THIS ALL WORKS, LET’S START WITH THAT ONE BIG NUMBER: $241 MILLION DOLLARS … OF THAT, 50 MILLION FUNDS SHLETERS, ANOTHER 50 MILLION FUNDS HEALTH SERVICES FOR THE TRULY HOMELESS… BUT THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT THAT 241 MILLION DOLLARS – IS THAT MOST OF IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PEOPLE WE SEE ON THE STREETS. {{Jeff Kositsky “That is a great observation, I think it’s missed by many in the city, we’re not spending $241 million on the 7,000 people who are homeless, we’re spending more than half of that money to keep people in permanant housing.” THAT’S RIGHT – 140 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF THE ENTIRE HOMELESS BUDGET HOUSES APPROXIMATELY 9,000 PEOPLE – AND THOSE ARE 9,000 PEOPLE WE DON’T EVEN COUNT AS HOMELESS. {{Randy Shaw “Like all of our hotels, people that have lived in housing for ten years are in the homeless budget. So people say, well, we don’t notice it. But if we didn’t do it, you’d notice it, the numbers would be off the charts.” SO THAT LEAVES US WITH THE 6,686 PEOPLE WE DO COUNT AS HOMELESS – AND THEY FALL IN TO TWO SEPARATE CATEGORIES. THOSE IN SOME KIND OF TEMPORARY SHELTER – AND THOSE WHO ACTUALLY LIVE ON THE STREET.AND TWO PERFECT EXAMPLES OF THIS WALKED RIGHT UP TO US WHILE WE WERE INTERVIEWING FORMER MAYOR ART AGNOS. FIRST – IS “LEE” WHO MIGHT LOOK LIKE HE LIVES ON THE STREET: {{Agnos & Homeless Man}} “Well, I’ve got a room.” AND THEN THERE’S “RON.” {{Agnos & Homeless Man}} “Why are you not in a room now? I tried for a while in North Beach.” AT THAT POINT – WE HAD SOME VINTAGE AGNOS. {{Agnos & Homeless Man}} “I’ll take you there, I’ll take you to the diagnostic center.” {{Wilson Walker “And just like that – Ron was in the car with the former mayor, and off to the mission neighborhood resource center – to get a shelter bed, or a room some place – you’ve got to come to a facility like this one, and be ready to play by the city’s rules. {{Paul Boden “You have to do fingerprinting and all this – to get an emergency shelter bed.” SO A LOT OF PEOPLE – LIKE RICHARD HERE – . {{Homeless Man}} “So you choose not to go into the shelters? Well sure, partner. Come on, man. Have you actually been in some of these places?” DIFFERENT CITY DEPARTMENTS, ISSUING SOME 400 CONTRACTS WITH AT LEAST 75 PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS… A TANGLED NETWORK OF SERVICES, WITH NO UNIFYING OVERSIGHT BY THE CITY THAh mental health issues is staying at non- profit charity.. but one day, he voluntarily leaves. He lands in some trouble, and then the custody of law enforceme is back on the street – and the city has no uniform way of tracking this person- as he ricochets between service providers.” ING SAN FRANCISCO: EVEN IF WE COULD CONVINCE ALL OF THESE PLEOPLE TO ACCEPT HELP – OUR BEST SERVICES DO NOT SCALE TO THE OVERWHELMING DEMAND. {{Randy Shaw “l supply of housing doesn’t exist to end our homeless problem.” {{Art Agnos “As a result, people kind of get discouraged, say ‘well it can &only way we’re going to be able to change people’s perception is by making progress.” THAT GENTLEMAN – JEFF KOSITSKY – THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO WHIP THIS WHOLE SYSTEM IN TO SHAPE. AND TOMORROW NIGHT – RIGHT HERE AT 6 O’CLOCK – YOU’LL HEAR HOW HE PLANS TO DO IT. NOW, IF YOU’RE FED UP WITH THE SITUATION ON OUR SIDEWALKS, AND YOU WANT TO SEE SOME CHANGES – I THINK YOU’RE GOING TO BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED WITH WHAT HE HAS TO SAY – BECAUSE THIS GUY IS NOT MESSING AROUND. YOU’LL BE HEARING A LOT MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS THIS WEEK, AS WE JOIN OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO HOMELESS PROJECT. SO – MORE TO COME – TOMORROW NIGHT AT SIX.