With spring in the air and the homeless tents once again popping up under San Francisco’s freeways, it’s worth noting that the city is spending about $458,000 per day to house and help homeless people.
That’s about $34 a day per homeless person, whether they are on the streets, in a shelter or in supportive housing.
The annual $167 million price tag is $20 million more than the operations budget for the Children, Youth and Family Services department, $6.3 million more than for Public Works and $3.8 million more than for Recreation and Park.
Nearly half of the homeless money, $81.5 million, goes for rent subsidies and programs to assist the 6,355 people living in “permanent supportive housing” – long the cornerstone of the city’s program for helping the down and out.
The problem is that, between the housing market and the type of people in the program, as often as not they don’t move on. As a result, the housing fills up, and the street homeless population has stayed pretty much steady at about 7,000 for the past 10 years.
I used to work in HSA, and Trent Rhorer used to be my boss. And I can tell you that this department will never, ever solve or even mitigate a single one of the problems it is charged with handling. The culture of the department is fatally sickened – I recall one social worker who was thrilled about one of her charges, who’d triumphantly given birth to a healthy baby – at fifteen. This sort of thing is regarded as a big success. I suppose expectations could be lower, but I’d be hard-pressed to imagine how.
The mindset of the place is entirely unable to grasp the simple concept that if you pay for social ills, you will get social ills. Which is why it is currently dealing with a fourth generation caseload.
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