Thanks for posting Travis.
@Tom K and others: I'd really like to get a balanced view of this and I am also struggling with the existence of the SROs.
I live in 'The Hub' where there are a lot of homeless people on the streets and several SROs. The neighborhood is also situated in between the Mission and 16th Navigation Center and the new Civic Center Hotel Navigation Center that is being put in.
I have written to a few journalists about this as well and am trying to get some legit understanding.
Most importantly, it doesn't help to be told that it's really terrible that I do not want to be around the smell of urine, the sight of used needles, and to be sexually harassed on the street. I think that's how a lot of the responses seem to those of us who resonate with Travis' desire to not have SROs around. Please try to meet us where we are.
So, the basic question that I REALLY don't understand is: Why should the city of SF house people on expensive real estate?
I've read about Utah's "HousingFirst" program and I am convinced that a person cannot get better without first feeling safe. It makes sense to me that the city should give people housing before they require those people to be off drugs or have a job interview, etc. What I don't understand is why the housing they provide has to be in or near the city's center? Why shouldn't the city fix up the SROs into expensive apartments and use the income from that to buy housing in the cheaper neighborhoods? I'm imagining townhouses or apartments in Visitacion Valley, Ingleside, or Hunter's Point. Or even working with another city to get housing near a BART station, like Daly City. Maybe the latter would be impossible to do because it requires cities working together, I'm not sure.
I also see the value in exposing people to safer circumstances and healthier social connections.
Looking forward to hearing some balanced perspective and political viewpoints if you are willing to share. :)
Wonderful historic audio documentary about about living in temporary housing in NYC's Bowery. Although different from many SROs in SF, it's a good starting point for learning about the rich community that develops as people make a home in this type of housing.
Good piece about SROs from Beyond Chron:
"San Francisco has created enough supportive housing in the past decade to pull about 9,000 homeless people into residential complexes staffed with counselors to help them get over the dysfunctions that put on the streets. But most residents and tourists who walk those streets notice little difference.
That's because there isn't enough counseling to go around for those who need it intensively …."
"But the history of longterm SRO tenants. many of whom live in supportive housing, is very different. They have long been the driving force for improving the city’s SRO neighborhoods, which include Chinatown, the Mission, the Tenderloin and Sixth Street. While these tenants are at public hearings pushing for pedestrian safety, more police, and public improvements, irresponsible property owners stay on the sidelines. These property owners have long been a chief cause of problems in low-income neighborhoods and the biggest obstacles to improvement ---yet they are rarely blamed by the Chronicle and other critics of SRO tenants."
I used to work for a nonprofit called the AIDS Housing Alliance, we provided grants to folks who are either homeless and need a place to live OR about to be evicted and need rent money to stay in their home. I can tell you that most of the folks in SRO's are long-time SF residents on disability or SSI. Most of them get under $1000 a month income, have some mental or physical disability preventing them from working, and run into medical or personal situations that prevent them from paying rent consistently. We helped the ones with HIV/AIDS and other organizations help the folks with other diseases or urgent homeless realities (like domestic abuse survivors). A lot of these folks are substance abusers with deep underlying psychiatric, behavioral, and trauma-related issues. Most of these folks are isolated and have little family other than the community in and around the SRO. Lots of organizations are trying to help, there are services, but you can't force people like this to leave :(