Setting Standards For Shelter Care - Street Spirit Article
SFHomeless | April 3, 2008 at 12:43 pmby
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This Proposal is a solution derived from San Francisco residents who are elderly, disabled, poor and home-less.
It is one of the simplest ways for individual San Franciscan residents and workers to make the smallest of personal sacrifices to cause the greatest positive impact to turn around in our City's homeless situation.
Which is an expensive crisis that affects all of us, our lives, our families, our businesses and our tourism.
It includes an article we found of interviews with homeless shelter residents in San Francisco sharing their real life experiences of being home-less in the tax funded shelters. We have included it for reference here.
Mayor Gavin Newsom Signs New Shelter Standards of Care Legislation Which Is A Human Investment That Benefits All San Franciscan Residents, Businesses and Tourists
A new law was passed last month called 'Standards of Care' which puts into law many common sense basic 'standards' and health, hygiene and staff training requirements.
Many of these basic requirements enable shelter residents; staff and the entire SF Community to be safe and healthy, by the implementation of health and hygiene training and practices which will save tax payers money through disease prevention.
Many of these 'standards' were part of existing City contract requirements and Human Service Agency 'policies' which were never really enforced properly over the past 10 or 15 years.
Because shelter management and City Agencies, for a variety of causes, had previously failed to honor contractural obligations and their oversight duties, this City's shelter residents, staff, advocates and the City's Shelter Monitoring Committee formed a work group and worked with Board of Supervisor Member Tom Ammiano (SOC legislation sponsor) to create these minimum standards of care.
The goal was to reduce abuse, violence and the spread of communicable diseases in our community which left unchecked, will cost tax payers huge financial and human costs which are largely forseeable and preventable.
This law also serves to prevent the loss of human life and minimize health and safety risks to shelter staff, residents and to the entire San Francisco population.
It is a form of 'human investment' which, if properly honored and carried out will not only prevent harm to us all and save lives, but will result in more homeless people 'moving on' quicker, through our shelter systems and 'be safer and healthier' while they are there.
This type of legislation gives us all enourmous benefits and return on investment, in our fellow San Franciscans who need our help to get their lives back on track.
Mayor Gavin Newsom reluctantly signed off on the legislation which passed the BOS by a vote of 9-2, because of 'costs' during a budget cutting environment.
The projected investment was reduced from an initial figure between $700,000 to $2,000,000 down to a meager $200,000 (approx.).
Which, in turn, will reduce the positive impact and benefits to us all, and deny additional future cost savings and benefits because less invesment means lower returns on those investments.
However, it must be noted that every time laws are passed that protect people from harm, abuse and neglect, the return on investment is huge and immediate.
All money spent, up front, to take 'good care' of our people, invariably results in the reduction of very expensive 'emergency response' costs (like preventable over time pay for police, fire, medical) which saves tax payer money, almost immediately.
It also prevents crime, violence, great injury, physical and mental illnesses and the loss of human lives and disruption of our families.
The only people that benefit from NOT helping our people with the greatest of needs, are the drug dealers, rapists and thieves that prey on them when they are 'on the streets' instead of being safe in a shelter.
Also, curiously enough, good people that work in emergency services also benefit when we deny our people preventive care because the emergency responders will invariably receive a huge amount of overtime pay.
Pay that they would not have recieved, if we had chosen more wisely to invest in our own people up front. To prevent such expensive over time payouts, by investing now.
San Francisco has a bad habit of heavy spending (to the tune of some $300 Million Dollars) on 'after the fact' services (such as exceesive over time pay for emergency medical and police responses that are preventable).
Our City keeps doing this, instead of being more fiscally responsible to the tax payers and residents, by simply shifting funds to 'the front' by fully funding 'preventive' programs and practices, such as this Standard of Care law represents.
Think about it. If you reduce shelter beds you are putting residents directly into harm's way by forcing them back into the streets.
If you reduce mental health services, the 'slightly mentally ill' residents become severely mentally ill, posing a risk to themselves and to the City's community and residents.
If you eliminate 'lower end' jobs of City Workers they are 'at risk' of becoming homeless and may result in families being 'broken apart' causing many more people to indirectly suffer and become 'at risk' of becoming homeless.
If you eliminate or reduce 24 Drop In Centers serving elderly, disabled, mentally ill veterans, men and women, they will become sicker and 'easy targets' for violence, increased drug use, physical and mental abuse which will cost us ten times more money to 'fix' a problem that our City is actually creating.
Instead, the City should be doubling the funding to increase the number of 24 hour drop in centers, shelter and respite (medical care) beds and basic tools and resources to enable all San Franciscans to be safer, healthier and stable so they can 'move on' to ther next step to move away from 'being homeless'.
About 100 City Workers make more than $200,000 per year in salaries. Another 8,000 City Workers make OVER $100,000 per year which comes to a total of about 800 Million Dollars !!!
If we were truly a wise and caring community, and decided to have the courage to make human beings (especially the poor, elderly, disabled, veterans, mentally ill) in great need a top priority, along with job retention and keeping families together, then we would not be making 'fake' cuts in the budget to homeless, housing and mental health services.
If we were to stop catering to those that have so much and stood up to make sure even the 'worst off' of our people were to be protected, like our Constitution, Bill of Rights and International Human Rights demand us to do, as decent and fair human beings -- we would be considering creative alternatives.
If we had, let's say, $4,000,000 Dollars to spend as a preventive human investment in the people 'we say' that we care so much about, we could save anywhere from $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 that would NOT have to be spent on expensive emergency services (such as overtime pay for police, paramedic and emergency room costs).
And it would save lives and prevent the slightly mentally ill from becoming severely mentally ill, the sick from getting sicker and help reduce the spread of disease, crime, violence and death.
Imagine that. For every dollar we spend up front, in prevention to take good care of our good residents that are veterans, mentally ill, sick, disabled, poor and homeless, we would get an immediate return on investment (ROI) between 150% to 200%.
Human investment, from a tax payer's perspective would give us much larger, predictable returns on investment than any other stock, bond or savings vehicle ever could.
Think of how much more money we would have to spend on all kinds of community services (that are now being cut because of the 'stupid old way' we have been thinking about homeless people and budget cuts) we could provide to women, children, families and other underserved residents ?
One simple alternative which would give us an additional $4 Million Dollars to use for human investments would not cause anyone any real pain or suffering to anyone.
The smart way would be to simply cut a tiny little 1/2 of one percent of the salaries of our highest paid City Workers (the 8,000 that make over $100,000 a year totalling 800 Million Dollars) which would give us that $4,000,000 investment we need now, to save lives and give us that 150% to 200% ROI this very same fiscal year.
Who wouldn't want to invest $1 to prevent $2 to $4 in future predictable and preventable expenses to the tax payers of San Francisco ? And also prevent harm and save lives that affect the quality of life and success of all San Franciscans.
And if the good high wage City Workers could find it in their hearts to consider donating just 1% ($1,000 dollars) of their $100k salaries to this 'human investment' fund, we could have $8,000,000 to use to help thousands of our residents get off the streets and improve their health and 'get them to work' and onto their next steps which would save all tax payers some $16,000,000 to $32,000,000 (16 to 32 MILLION) dollars -- this year.
Now, how many San Franciscan residents would be willing to give up 1/2 or 1 percent of their salaries to help us all benefit from a 150% to 200% return on invesment in human beings ?
Imagine, we have the power to prevent lower wage City workers from being fired and put at risk of becoming home-less and breaking up their families.
Imagine, we have the power to prevent tens of millions of dollars worth of overtime and expensive emergency services by these meager sacrifices.
Imagine, the vast majority of our 'street homeless' would be off the streets. The rest of them would have ample access to good food, medicine, mental health services, laundry and shower facilities.
IF, only most of the good 8,000 highest salaried City Workers opened their hearts and minds, and found a way to be just 1/2 to 1 percent more giving, they alone, without additional tax monies or community donations could definitively SOLVE most of the homelessness related problems we have here.
If you want to end or greatly reduce homelessness or reduce doubling and tripling of current and future expenses to our tax payers and residents, we MUST be smart enough to give a very small sacrifice to make this happen.
If we wait for goverment politicians and agencies to finally figure this out, it may never happen.
Individual San Franciscans must decide, once and for all.
The Big $64,000 Dollar Question Is:
Do you want to do the necessary human investments that require you to sacrifice a meager 1/2 or 1 per cent of your money now, to save lives and save us all tens of millions of dollars later this year, or not ?
It does not get any simpler than this.
If these high paid City Workers have a conscience and the free will to make this happen, we must also make sure that this money is carefully 'guarded' from falling into the hands of any one with a history of mismanagement, corruption or waste.
IF they decide to help solve these life and death problems, once and for all, then we must have complete, transparent accountability for every dollar that comes in to see exactly how it is spent to make sure at least 85% of every dollar is going to directly benefit our poor, elderly, disabled and mentally ill residents.
We cannot allow any more money to be in the hands of people that are not qualified and trusted to deliver.
In the past, too many organizations have eaten up tax money and donations on 'overhead' and things that never made it into the hands of our residents.
If we do not learn from our past we are condemned to repeat it.
We must have 100% transparent accountability for every tax dollar and community donation that goes into our homeless, health, shelter and housing services.
We Are Calling On Each One of You To Help Us Now !
If any of you reading this are willing to 'do the right thing' and donate 1/2 to 1 per cent of your wages to help us with these new human investments, email us today, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
San Francisco's homeless community is ready and eager to set up a new, clean, transparent non-profit organization.
A transparent, non-profit organization, like others around the country, which are made up entirely of honest home-less residents with a responsible board of directors comprised of 'proven' honest and incorruptible, progressive community leaders.
A 'clean vehicle' with which to establish a single 'human investment' fund; independent of tax dollars and 'top down' budget cutting processes and politics.
We are doing this because we must. Too many years have gone by while the same good people are being underserved by the current systems and processes.
Too much of YOUR tax dollars have not made it through these 'systems' to truly help our homeless residents in a sustainable. way. Too many hands in the pot and not enough accountability, performance and integrity to prevent gross waste, fraud, negligence and corruption.
We are struggling for our very survival. We expect more of our San Franciscan residents to become home-less as this recession and trillion dollar war continues, on and on.
Our people are suffering and dying and being criminalized because we do not have enough 'safe spaces' and access to basic health and mental care services.
Most of us want to and have been trying our best to 'get on' to NOT being homeless.
We are ready and able to work but we do not have the basic safe places, tools, nutrition and reousources that any one of you would need to look for work yourselves.
Just as any one of you, would need clean clothes, cell phones, bus passes, good food and good sleep and basic mental and physical health services in order to be clean, healthy, presentable, productive and employable, so do we also, need those resources and tools.
The only difference between you, the employed and housed and us, the unemployed, barely employed and home-less are the excess money, resources and safe spaces and tools that we have not been given for the past 15 years now.
Other than having basic hygiene, money, communications and transporation, we are the same as you. We are all human beings, but our needs are much greater because we have nothing.
As you consider whether or not you will choose to sacrifice very little to help so many of your fellow San Franciscans, please ponder these wise quotes, in the hope it will help open your minds and your hearts.
We anxiously await your emails with your thoughts and comments on what we have written here to you, today.
The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much.
It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (circa 1933)
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"
John F Kennedy (inauguration 1961)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are createdequal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienableRights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, Thatwhenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, itis the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..."
Our Nation's Declaration of Independence from Tyranny.
(Our Right to Resonsible Self-Governance)
"All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second,it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident. "
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--
The Great & Humble Martin Luther King Jr.
"When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the massesover generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and itsspeaker a raving lunatic."
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.
William J. Clinton
(Our last honestly ELECTED President)
Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.
The businessof Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.
G. K. Chesterton
But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving.
Wemust lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature.
They are made by human beings.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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