SFHomeless Yahoo Group gets noticed on SFist's web site in San Francisco, California
We are all pleasantly surprised to see locals chatting about the SFHomeless Yahoo! Group...
We work hard to help our homeless residents and related service providers by reporting and monitoring things that impact them every day.
We had a recent example wherein tips came in about a volunteer at one of the designated (by HSA and Interfaith Groups) winter shelters (run partly by Episcopal Community Services)/Next Door Shelter Staff), that is located at one of their churches (Episcopal) near the Polk District at Sutter and Gough (SFPD Northern Station Zone), until Dec. 22, 2007.
The place is packed to overflow every night. 80 to 100 men packed into close quarters with mats sitting almost on top of each other. Very risky condition and environment should there be fire, catastrophe or an outbreak of violence during the night.
There are good Shelter and Church Staff but they do not always catch up or immediately de-escalate 'hot heads' that have violent or abusive behavior of that may have a recent history of violence because they do not really 'screen' the staff or volunteers for backgrounds. This one new staff or supervisor has been very quick to 'quash' any violent or racial slurs, arguments, etc. He is one of the 'new breed' of staff that we have seen at several other shelters, that 'treat others how they wish to be treated' which changes the often negative dynamics of the current shelter system environment and makes everyone safer by de-escalating violence without hesitating a moment. Stop it before it ever gets started.
We got tipped off by several guests/staff about this one volunteer who has been known to be racially and sexually harassing and verbally abusing and threatening shelter guests last week. Some other staff stood by and said nothing, until other guests stood up to get the guy to stop the public slurs and the angry threats. It was the other guests that shouted for this volunteer to 'take his abusive and pro vocative comments to some other private area'. Only then did a staff member show up to try to calm things down.
Then a couple days later, the same volunteer allegedly purchased a 'new knife' and was overheard saying something about 'using the knife to murder someone he thought was 'a snitch' but wasn't sure if it was worth gong back to jail or not (meaning he was after anyone that dutifully reported his outrageous and threatening behavior from the week before). De-escalation by trained staff would help this man bent on violence and keep everyone safe.
We got the tips and notified authorities, shelter providers and the homeless community to 'prevent a likely tragedy' in the making, as it was evolving.
We hope there's a happy ending where he does not use the knife, does not kill or maime someone and he stays out of jail, and changes his ways for the good of all...
That is one of the main points of the group is to expose anything that may cause harm or lead to potential injury, sickness or loss of life or whatever. To make everyone that lives and works in the shelthers safer.
We have had several deaths this year and some may have been prevented had staff and residents been more alert and proactive on 'violence detection and prevention'.
THERE ARE PRIOR CASES OF WHAT MANY THINK WERE 'PREVENTABLE DEATHS' IN SF SHELTERS OVER THE YEARS ...
Earlier this year, for example, one man staying at another shelter run by Episcopal 'ran amuck' and took stabs at several shelter guests that were in the bed area. That man stabbed another in the eye which resulted in the loss of the man's eye and a law suit filed in court against the shelter provider.
Statistics show that awareness, training and 'caring' enough to report troubled staff and residents saves lives and can greatly reduce conflict, stress, harm, expenses and liabilities inside any shelter, resource center or other place where people are being 'managed' or 'cared for' in large numbers.
Together, good staff and good homeless people, watching out for each other whenever other paid staff or paid public officials are 'not on top of the game' is what makes the difference. We are our brother's and sister's keeper. If not, any one of us could be a preventable victim of the next abuse, assault or stabbing on the streets or inside the shelters.
It's up to everyone to keep us all safe. No one in San Francisco or any other major city can survive -alone- and silent like being alone on some make believe island.
What each one of us does or does not do will affect us all one way or the other, so let us all have the courage to stand up and do the right thing by each other, every day.