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(en) US, San Francisco, Anti-Poverty Direct Action, 11 Arrested

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 4 May 2004 21:19:29 +0200 (CEST)

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From: M. McCarron <autonomous-A-mutualaid.org> The following report
appeared on the front page of a local daily in San Francisco, the Examiner.
The Autonomous Collective, an anti-authoritarian anarchist collective
organized this action as part of it's "Campaign Against Poverty".

Care Not Cash Clash By Sara Zaske Staff Writer szaske-A-examiner.com
Published on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 http://www.examiner.com/article/index.cfm/i/050404n_carenotcash
Amid angry shouts of protests and acts of civil disobedience from homeless
activists, Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration calmly implemented the Care
Not Cash initiative on Monday.

Ten formerly homeless people officially moved into the Graystone Hotel on
Geary Street, but they shyly avoided a city-organized media event on the

Nevertheless, city officials claimed there was a lot of enthusiasm for the
homeless program that is using individual cash grants to help fund new
housing units.

"There were a lot of excited faces among people who came in to apply for
aid and were told they could have housing," said Jim Buick, San
Francisco's Department of Human Services deputy director.

There was also some excitement at City Hall as Sheriff's deputies arrested
11 homeless activists for failing to disperse. Six men and five women had
entered the reception area of the mayor's office around 2 p.m., sat down,
linked arms and refused to leave.

According to Sheriff's Chief of Staff Eileen Hirst, the group will be
booked on misdemeanor charges, issued citations and released, provided
they have no outstanding warrants.

An anarchist group called the Autonomous Collective reportedly organized
the act of civil disobedience, but the protesters were acting on behalf of
the Coalition on Homelessness, which held a parallel, law-abiding rally in
Civic Center Plaza.

The Coalition is continuing to resist the implementation of Care Not Cash,
which voters approved in 2002 and an appeals court validated on April 30.

Among the Coalition's primary complaints is The City's plan to cut grants
to homeless people even when they are offered only a shelter bed instead
of a permanent place to stay -- and regardless of whether that offer is

"I think that people that are getting housing are going to be happy, but
the people who don't get housing -- which is the majority of people -- are
going to be very unhappy," said Allison Lum, a shelter outreach
coordinator with the Coalition.

Under The City's old aid program, homeless individuals could qualify for
grants as high as $410. Under Care Not Cash, that grant could fall to a
low of $59 when housing is offered.

An estimated 2,500 people receive cash grants from San Francisco's
assistance programs. On any given night, 550 occupy beds in The City's
temporary shelters.

The City already has 850 rooms in area hotels under contract for homeless
clients. In preparation for the launch of Care Not Cash, the DHS signed
contracts for 300 new units.

The Graystone alone has 74 sparsely furnished rooms under contract with
The City. The facility currently lacks a kitchen, but the DHS is
negotiating to have a hot-meal program delivery service to residents.

The Tenderloin Housing Clinic will run the single-room occupancy hotel's
services for the DHS, supplying a full-time, on-site case manager to help
tenants with everything from finding a refrigerator for their rooms to
enrolling in mental health services.

Graystone rooms normally rent for $463 a month. Rent will be paid with a
combination of the individual's cash grant and a city subsidy.

"What we are doing is taking resources and using them more efficiently and
more humanely," said Scott Walton, DHS supportive housing program manager.
"Supportive housing is truly a humane answer to homelessness. It preserves
people's independence, it gives them tenants' rights and provides on-site
services to help them retain their housing."

The DHS plans to open a new hotel under Care Not Cash every month, with
the goal of adding 934 new units by the end of the calendar year.

As of Monday, only 25 people were in the screening process to receive
rooms at SRO hotels, but DHS officials said that number would grow as the
plan is phased in.

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