Back in 2004, the city of San Francisco launched an ambitious ten year plan aimed at ending homelessness in the city by creating 3,000 permanent housing units as substitutes for shelters.
Now at the six-year mark, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, is claiming the city is more than halfway toward its goal, having, thus far, created almost 1,700 housing units.
The mayor tells Bay City News
that, while homelessness in the city has not been eradicated, the homeless population has decreased for the first time in three decades.
Besides creating housing for the homeless, the plan also envisions a greatly expanded support structure and social services, even at this time of great fiscal crisis in the city and the entire state of California.
Newsom, who is thinking about running for Lt. Governor of the state, also says that more than 1,900 people have volunteered so far to participate in what is officially known as "Project Homeless Connect."
Speaking to SFGate.com
, the mayor's so-called homeless "czar," Dariush Kayhan, says, "We're well over the halfway point of getting to the 3,000 units, and that's a big deal. We know it's the solution, and we're proud of what we've done so far."
Interviewed by the local website was 68 year old Abdalla Megahed who was homeless for some six years. Because of the program for the homeless, he was able to finally move into a permanent unit about a year and a half back.
"It's heaven, it's a dream come true," Megahed is quoted as saying.
It will be of great interest to see how the rest of the program progresses. As I mentioned earlier, the city's and state's finances are at crisis levels--both with enormous deficits.
That San Francisco has made it this far under such economic conditions, is nothing but a small (or maybe even medium) miracle.
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book,
"No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.