[Hpn] inyaface--chunky style pt 1
Fri, 01 Dec 2000 17:00:27 -0700
SAN FRANCISCO'S STREET SHEET ONLINE EDITION
A PUBLICATION OF THE COALITION ON HOMELESSNESS, SAN FRANCISCO
**Dedicated to the memory of Trent Hayward 1966-2000**
table of contents:
by chance martin
CHARITY OR JUSTICE?
by Maria Poblet
AGENCIES CAREFULLY CAST THE FACE OF NEED
By Adam C. Smith
(originally published in the St. Petersburg Times, November 15, 1998)
WHEN, NOT IF
HOMELESS EMPLOYMENT COLLABORATIVE
by Laura Ware
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN HOMELESS
by Joyce Miller
ONE DAY IN FRONT OF CITY HALL
by Keith Savage
THELMA AND LOUISE
by Hoops McCann
RESIST THE CRIMINALIZATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS
by Cecelia Valentine
by Sanaz Nikaein
SEARCHING FOR BREATHING ROOM
by janice flux
POLICE VIOLENCE REPORT
by Adam Arms
EDICION POPULAR EN ESPANOL
żCaridad o Justicia?
por Maria Poblet
ĦNUESTRA EXPERIENCIA HABLA!
Dead people. Dead homeless people.
On December 21st, the longest night of the year, people across the country
will remember the men, women and children who died homeless this year.
In San Francisco, there will be an interfaith memorial service in front of
City Hall. There we will read the names of of the lost. Last year, there
were 169 names. By the time the year 2000 rolled in, the list had grown to
183. Happy new year, eh?
San Francisco is unique among cities in the United States because our
medical examiner's database actually has a field to mark whether the
decedents were homeless when they died. Then all that remains to determine
the final number is to review all the year's M.E. reports (LOTSA FUN!!!) and
some considerable footwork to actually verify if those with questionable
housing status fit the criteria. After the data is collected, an annual
report is prepared in conjunction with San Francisco's Department of Public
Health, which is read into the record of SF's Health Commission.
This was all the result of years of pressure from the Coalition on
Homelessness-SF. I guess you might ask yourself why in the hell anyone would
want to immerse themselves in such grisly research during the holiday
season. We have a little joke about that around here: Dead People Don't Lie.
SF-DPH's end of the report is providing an epidemiological breakdown of all
those homeless deaths. That information is very valuable in our efforts.
It's not a pretty treasure. It reveals those areas where our safety net's
unraveling cost some people their lives.
The basic premise is that if we can successfully advocate services and
programs that would reduce the number of homeless deaths here, we will raise
the "quality of life" for the majority of our homeless population. We
haven't been as successful in that area -- the number of homeless deaths in
San Francisco continues to spiral ever higher in the utter indifference of a
managed care public health paradigm.
A couple of sad facts:
the life expectancy of a homeless person is thirty years less than the US
substance use is the major cause of death among homeless people here.
Heroin is a factor in over half of those deaths the medical examiner terms
"accidental poisoning," and chronic alcoholism is a major contributor to
many other premature deaths from other causes.
And so on and so forth. I'm the lucky guy who gets to do the "advocacy"
portion of SF's homeless deaths report. I inherited this happy task from a
friend of mine who currently resides beneath a bridge struggling with our
public health system to get a replacement for a necrotic hip joint. A couple
of weeks ago, a couple of nice young men from the CalTrans detail assigned
to clear homeless campsites drove him from his lair by slinging rocks and
bottles at him. He had to slide down the hillside to escape, on a hip his
doctor has advised him should walk no more than two blocks. Today he told me
he can't climb up to his camp anymore without blurred vision from tears of
I hope he manages to live this winter out. I really do.
In an perfect world, nobody should ever be pressed into this god-awful role
of chronicling the ongoing decay of human compassion, but in a perfect world
the only people who lived and died outside would be acting from choice.
OK, enough of this morbidity. I didn't enlist in the war on poverty -- I got
I wanted to include the poem "East Coker" by T.S. Eliot, but I couldn't find
the file for the transcription I did last year, and I can't find it online
either. Find it. Read it. It says worlds about death.
Instead, I'll switch to Holiday mode and offer the following lyrics from
Jethro Tull. They say worlds about the holidays.
Once in Royal David's City stood a lonely cattle shed,
where a mother held her baby.
You'd do well to remember the things He later said.
When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
you'll just laugh when I tell you to take a running jump.
You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making
that Christmas spirit is not what you drink.
So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry,
and how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.
(Hey! Santa! Pass us that bottle, will you?)
Have a splendid whatever, wherever.
CHARITY OR JUSTICE?
Now that the the holiday season is near, we hear everywhere that this is the
season of love and brotherhood. The media, our religious organizations, and
society in general encourage us to do charity work in order to act is the
spirit of brotherly love. But is that really what brotherly love means?
In San Francisco, the number of evictions has tripled since 1996, 25% of
homeless people are families, 40% of homeless people work but to not make
enough to pay for decent housing, and the waiting list for a family shelter
is more than 100 people long. In this context, brotherly love has to reach
beyond charity it requires a commitment to end the injustice that is the
root cause of these problems.
Donating clothes, toys or money to people who need them will never end
Donating time to serve free food to hungry people will never end hunger.
Donating money to a shelter will never end the housing crisis.
It doesnıt matter if someone donates once or a million times, charity will
never end injustice. In fact, in some ways these short-term solutions hide
the reality and gravity of the problem. These gestures are like using
band-aids to treat a bullet wound. And in the end, charity only makes the
person that donates feels less guilty about the problem. Meanwhile, we
ignore the bullet the root cause of the problem the unjust system under
which we live, that creates and defends riches for the few and poverty for
the rest of us.
The injustice of capitalism is that the rich profit at the expense of the
poor of every race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, etc. And they
rely on the lack of unity among different oppressed people in order to keep
attacking us. This is why it is key for oppressed people to fight together
for justice. This is what brotherly love really means: organizing with
solidarity among oppressed people to get justice. Our solidarity is an
essential weapon to overthrow this system that oppresses us!
But it is not enough only to understand this evil system or seek solidarity
among oppressed people we must act for justice. This means organizing to
defend ourselves from the attacks of the system and fighting for what we
need: housing for all, education for all, food for all, mental and physical
health services for all, a living wage, etc.
In organizing for justice, we build peopleıs power for revolutionary
change. This is the true brotherly love that will create the just world that
we all deserve.
AGENCIES CAREFULLY CAST THE FACE OF NEED
Area social service agencies have adopted a tried-and-true marketing move to
maximize donations for the homeless: ³The Old White Guy.ıı
By Adam C. Smith
(originally published in the St. Petersburg Times, November 15, 1998)
You may have seen him grizzled and hunched over a plate of food, tugging at
your heart strings. He could be your uncle or father after a lifetime of bad
Thousands of Tampa Bay residents will see his photo this holiday season and
open their checkbooks for local homeless programs. But you probably wonıt
find this sad fellow at any area shelter.
His photo, or one of another similarly down-on-his-luck senior, appears in
dozens of newspapers from Florida to California. Advertising executives
insist he is or once was an actual person in need, though they donıt
know offhand his name or whereabouts. He gets no royalties.
And while rescue missions donıt much like to talk about it, Mr. Anonymous is
also part of a curious truism among service providers for the homeless: the
Old White Guy sells.
Put a picture of a Hispanic teen, a black senior, or any mother and child in
a newspaper or direct mail piece, and people will give money. Use an old
white man, and more people will give money, say advertising executives.
³You test and you test and you test, and in the end you go with the guy who
draws the most,² said Tom Harrison, a senior vice president at Russ Reid
Co., which provides an ad campaign to about 60 rescue missions across the
³I was shocked because I would think a picture of a mother and child thatıs
homeless and needs everything would draw the most, but it doesnıt,² said
Harrison. ³What works best is the stereotypical vision of what the homeless
person is. People think of an older male alcoholic.²
The Tampa City Mission and St. Petersburg City Mission this year are using
California-based Russ Reid to place newspaper ads featuring a wrinkled,
white-haired man in a ball cap looking into a plate of food. The campaign
last year helped the Tampa mission raise $227,000 and the St. Petersburg
mission more than $350,000. Tampaıs Metropolitan Ministries for the first
time this year started placing a similar ad with a weathered manıs photo
supplied by another national firm.
The Old White Guy marketing principle raises perplexing questions about
human nature and compassion. It is also the source of great debate among
service providers who know firsthand that the face of homelessness is in
fact black and white, young and old, male and female.
But the providers need every penny they can get to meet needs, and marketing
pros keep reminding them that the elderly white man works best.
³Itıs a big controversy, and there are groups of people in the industry that
are starting to challenge that assumption,² said Chasz Parker, the former
assistant director of Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa and now the director
of a large rescue mission in Syracuse, N.Y. ³Everyoneıs told that the
picture of the old white guy works best. Perhaps it reminds somebody of your
dad, your uncle, your grandpa. Or perhaps itıs just the most pathetic
picture you can have. I just donıt know the answer.²
A handful of national advertising companies specialize in donor campaigns
for homeless programs. They analyze potential pitches with the same
precision used for marketing toothpaste or soft drinks.
³A picture of a woman alone does not do well. A woman with a child does a
little better. But itıs the older white man whoıs king,² said Timothy
Burgess of The Domain Group, a Seattle-based ad firm. He thinks itıs because
people associate him with urban rescue missions.
Randy Brewer, vice president of Grizzard Advertising in Los Angeles, said
focus groups found old black men second in effectiveness, though their
facial details can be difficult to see in black and white newspaper ads.
Least effective are young men, especially when pictured holding ³Will Work
for Food² signs.
³The attitude of the responder is, He can go get a job. He doesnıt need my
helpı,² Brewer said.
Giff Claiborne of the Los Angeles Rescue Mission has developed a national
reputation marketing rescue missions, and he dismisses the theory that old
white men always work best. Still, he acknowledged that most of the Los
Angeles Missionıs holiday pictures feature them.
Countless variables come into play with an adıs effectiveness, Claiborne
said. One of the most effective newspaper ads he ever saw happened to be
positioned near a picture of Cher.
³Maybe we should try to use Cher in our ads,² he suggested.
St. Petersburgıs St. Vincent de Paul Society does not use a national
advertising company, but places newspaper ads with a photo of a woman with a
child digging in a trash bin. Executive Director Lola Walker said the people
pictured were an ad agency employee and her daughter who had donated their
For years, Metropolitan Ministries insisted that only photos of actual
clients be used in its fund-raising pitches. This year, the 27-year-old
ministry started supplementing its own photos with a newspaper campaign
almost identical to the Tampa and St. Petersburg city missions.
The ad notes it takes just $1.79 for a Thanksgiving dinner and pictures a
bearded, well-worn face sipping from a foam cup. Ministry leaders donıt know
who the man is, but their advertising company, Grizzard Advertising, assures
them he was a needy client somewhere.
Curiously, the St. Petersburg and Tampa missions say their full Thanksgiving
meals cost $1.57 22 cents less than Metropolitan Ministries. Itıs not that
one offers white meat, the other dark. The figures come from two different
ad agencies, which say the calculations stem from surveys of dozens of
The holiday-meal pitch is repeated across the country by non-profit groups,
and it raises eyebrows among watchdogs.
³Itıs a feel-good appeal because people like the idea that my single
donation will let somebody have a turkey dinner,² said Daniel Borochoff,
president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. ³They have these ads
appear during the holiday time for the holiday meal, but when you look at
it, most of the food is getting donated. Usually, thatıs not really what
they need most of the money for. Most of the money is going for general
program services throughout the year.²
The ads for Metropolitan Ministries and the Tampa and St. Petersburg
missions focus on holiday meals, but also mention other services.
For cash-strapped programs trying to serve the homeless, the trick is to
pull in the most donations without blurring ethical lines. Many missions
show a wide array of clients in their fund-raising pitches, even as the
conventional marketing wisdom pushes the tried-and-true old man.
³The question is, ³Are we attempting to educate people or are we attempting
to emote response and emotion that gets people to participate?ı ³ asked
Brewer of Grizzard. ³These groups do not have a lot of money to spend on
advertising, and itıs important that they stretch their dollars.²
Copyright St. Petersburg Times 2000
When, Not If
(for my adopted sister Lauren)
When the police become the confessors,
Can you picture that?
Silent, the night
No more sirens wailing
Proving the priesthood right
Suffer for your sins
Grow like good little children
Tithe to assuage your guilt
Let father confessor
Take you under his wing
Pay for your redemption
Market driven religion
Robber baron priests
Tower from the pulpit
Declaring divine ascendancy
I shall show you the way
Good little child
Pay and you shall be forgiven
Traditions of travesty
Not a good stock option
When the police become the confessors.
When the soldiers are the peacemakers
Leading the way
Toward greater tolerance
Each to the other
Recognition of the damage
Comparisons and judgements
Tearing all asunder
Might makes right
My God is better than your god
Mere strumpet, idolatrous abversion
Your god, compared to mine.
Borne on arrogant artilleries
Enforcing arbitrary differences
Canıt we all get along here?
See the commonality
Human to human
Source of all
Lighting the pathway
When the soldiers are the peacemakers.
When the President is an MBA
And the halls of the House,
Hallowed once again,
Peopled by men and women
Two terms only,
To steer the ship once running low on fuel
Through the muddy waters,
Not bent on winning poisoned popularity contests
Answering a higher call
Thinking of the whole
Communing with our Forefathers
Setting the record straight
Lean and responsible government
Meeting the needs of the people
A better place to live
The revolutionary cry
Is met with resounding outpour
Beyond our limited boundaries
Trusting one another
Expecting only the best
When the president is an MBA
With only a six year term.
When the children are our teachers
Harbingers of a better time
Bought into the light of day.
Age old wisdom
Parented by all
Outpouring of love
To warm and hearten everyone.
HOMELESS EMPLOYMENT COLLABORATIVE
The Homeless Employment Collaborative (fondly known as HEC) is a
collaboration of 10 homeless and employment training providers that offer a
wide array of employment, training and educational services to any
individuals who are, or have been homeless. The HEC came together in 1996 in
an effort to offer more flexible, diverse opportunities rather than the more
traditional and rigid training and employment opportunities offered under
the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). Since then we (the HEC) have worked
towards offering not only a variety of services but also ones which can
build upon each other.
The HEC is currently comprised of 10 agencies: Arriba Juntos, Catholic
Charities, Central City Hospitality House, Community Housing Partnership,
Episcopal Community Services, Goodwill Industries, Mission Hiring Hall,
Northern California Service League, San Francisco Vocational Services,
Swords to Plowshares and Toolworks. Each agency specializes in certain
services offered, such as training, as well as populations served. Each
agency also focuses on particular aspects of the homeless population, and
has a commitment to addressing issues which prevent individuals from
succeeding Therefore the collaborative created appropriate linkages with
other members of the HEC in order to offer the most opportunities to the
As a collaborative we are able to see consistent barriers and system-wide
challenges which effect all homeless people, and limit their immediate
ability to access training, employment and educational services.
Additionally we have also identified issues that hinder agenciesı ability to
deliver effective services. Thus we are beginning to address such broad
issues as the need for more housing, substance abuse and mental health
treatment opportunities, food and clothing resources, living wage
requirements, and more flexible rules under entitlement programs.
In order to respond to the vast challenges that our clients encounter, we
have increased information sharing with the general public in order to
highlight the complexity of homelessness, from the perspective of obtaining
training and employment. This is the first in a series of articles designed
to discuss various issues and factors of homelessness which affect specific
groups of people, as well as the particular services available to these
groups. This month the focus will be on formerly homeless individuals and
families that live in permanent housing with on-site supportive services
(a.k.a. ³supportive housing²).
The training and employment service needs of homeless people are diverse,
but they also often vary from those of other marginalized people because
they are lacking stable housing. This prevents them from having privacy,
access to a phone, a place to study or prepare, inability to get adequate
sleep, and many other amenities inherent to being in a home. Additionally,
homeless people are facing the multiple traumas which arise on the streets
and in the shelters such as lack of safety, exposure, depression, weariness,
lack of support systems, and loneliness. Once people move into permanent
housing some of these barriers are automatically resolved, but other issues
amy arise which were not previously apparent, such as regret, boredom, low
motivation and lack of direction.
The Community Housing Partnership (CHP) has permanent housing for formerly
homeless individuals and families with on-site supportive, training and
employment services. The goal of these services is to support the tenants of
the housing sites in stabilizing their housing, and subsequently pursuing
customized vocational goals depending on their own needs, interests and
capabilities. In order to fulfill this goal, all of the services are
designed to ³meet the individual where they are at², based on a personal
vocational assessment, thereby assisting the individual to pursue a short or
long-term goal. Many of the services prioritize offering support to the
participants, as well as assistance in identifying potential endeavors.
The employment and training services offered in this permanent housing model
vary somewhat from other employment training programs because they are
offered with in the housing site. Services include training in maintenance
services, property management and basic social services, clerical and
administrative skill building, and supervision and management techniques.
These services are very accessible, and necessitate flexibility so that the
individual can integrate their vocational pursuits into their living
environment. They have multiple phases, and are extensive, aiding tenants in
stabilizing their living environments.
Lastly, these services have general components such as an initial assessment
phase, followed by training and supportive counseling, and ending in pursuit
of further training or employment, but each of these phases continues for as
long as the individual requests. These services tend to be less standardized
and structured than other training programs within this collaborative,
although the final goal of more advanced training or permanent employment is
Through its involvement in the HEC, the CHP continues to share resources
with the other members, familiarizing them with available housing
opportunities (VERY FEW) as well as advocating that the HEC participate in
advocacy efforts which will ultimately result in more affordable housing. At
the same time the CHP benefits from the vast knowledge of the other members
regarding available training as well as potential job opportunities. Thus we
are able to offer more resources and support to all of our participants.
During the next few months we hope to familiarize STREET SHEET readers with
many of the challenges which face homeless people when pursuing training and
employment goals. We also hope to speak about opportunities which do exist,
but to also highlight the fact that although the depth and extent of
accessible services in still very limited, little attention is paid to this
area of need.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN HOMELESS
Happy Holidays! and welcome to a new era. With the inaugurations scheduled
we can look forward to an even steeper uphill battle for poor and homeless
people in San Francisco, and throughout the nation. With welfare reform
deeply entrenched, new HUD regulations being enforced, and no discussion of
the effects on children, we are in for rough years ahead.
The number of families in need of ³affordable² housing grows as the number
of low-income affordable units dwindles. As the numbers shift, the number of
children going into foster care continues to climb. Many homeless parents
are being charged with neglect of their children, and removed from the
parentsı care. Parents of children under the age of three face an even
greater dilemma, because their children can be removed permanently and
placed for adoption.
To ³reunify² with your children you must prove to the court that you have
stable income and stable housing. Not all, but many homeless families are
CalWORKs recipients, and that means if they lose their kids, they lose their
income. The fact that they are homeless is a clear indication that stable
housing is a problem. Now not only must the parents search for housing, but
must obtain an income that will support the stable housing. On top of
reunification criteria named above, the parents must attend court
proceedings, and follow the recommendations of the court. The whole family
has been traumatized by the separation, and while the children can receive
counseling, who counsels the parents?
The Little Hoover Commission released ³NOW IN OUR HANDS: Caring For
Californiaıs Abused and Neglected Children² in August 1999, which offers
some good suggestions to improve the system, but targets comments about
abused children, rather than including neglected children in the discussion.
Not all children are removed because of abuse. What happens to the children
sucked into the system for temporary placement? Temporary can mean time up
to one year, the goal for family reunification. For too many children,
temporary placement becomes long-term placement. When reunification cannot
be achieved, permanent placement is the next step.
One of the concerns beginning to surface is youth who turn 18 and age out of
foster care. These youth generally have not received the services necessary
to treat their trauma and meet their developmental needs, and as adults are
expected to be productive citizens. We now know that many youth who age out
of foster care become homeless within one year, because they usually lack
the necessary ³life skills². Theyıre not fully informed about housing,
education, employment, and health services as they grow up through the
system. They donıt know how to keep a job, maintain a checking account, or
how to complete the rental application process, etc., etc. The ³independent
living programs² offer some skills, but not all foster youth volunteer for
The foster care system is so secretive and disjointed, it becomes the
³abuser² to many of these young people. The system ³neglects² to adequately
provide the highest quality of care for them. Clearly the state must be more
accountable to the wards, and to society in general. The individual child
must receive services based on the individual needs of the child, to produce
healthy and productive adults.
Perhaps some of our new legislators and political leaders can review the
Little Hoover Commissionıs report, and implement some of the recommendations
to improve this very expensive system. The cost is not measured only in
dollars, but in the shattered lives and family relationships. If the family
unit is the basis of society, all efforts should be made to help families
maintain healthy relationships.
Homeless families need help, and not the lip service they continuously
receive. Their children need help, and not just to grow up to feel like the
system is telling them they have the right to remain homeless.
ONE DAY IN FRONT OF CITY HALL
On Tuesday, November 7, 2000 at approximately 2:30 PM, I began collecting
signatures, along with Jim Reid, to recall Willie Brown, Mayor of San
Francisco. We were in front of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.
When Jim Reid left to get his jacket, I was approached by Seth Steward,
Special Assistant to the Mayor. He was wearing only a black tee shirt and
brown pants. However, I had seen him in a brown business suit when he
entered City Hall 5 minutes earlier. Seth approached me as if he were a
concerned citizen rather than an employee of the City of San Francisco. Seth
exited City Hall, descended that stairs, then asked me, ³Brother, what is
this all about; why do you want to recall Willie Brown?²
I answered, telling him that I knew five good reasons.
Seth asked me, ³What are the reasons?²
I told Seth that one; he has thrown people out in the streets for developers
to build business lofts for dot-com companies in residential neighborhoods.
Two, he is not addressing the homeless issue. Three, he has not fixed MUNI.
Four, he has not provided the promised jobs in Bayview Hunters Point.
As I was about to say ³five² I was interrupted by another who appeared to be
a City Hall employee. He asked: ³Whatıs going on? Why do you want to recall
I said, ³Because he is throwing people in the streets for dot com
Unidentified Employee: ³What people?²
I told him the artists in the mission district, the tenants.
³Who is throwing them in the streets and how?²
³Landlords, with Willie Brownıs consent, are raising the peopleıs rents
three times the present rate, then telling the renters to get out; so that
the landlords can sell the property for dot com condos; office buildings in
Seth: ³Those are not business condos. Those are residential lofts.²
I told him a recent S.F. Weekly investigation revealed that those are
commercial offices built in residential neighborhood to avoid paying a
Seth: ³That is no longer happening.²
I disagreed, stating people are still being tossed into the streets, and
there they are being harassed by the police.
Unidentified Employee: ³They donıt have to stay in the streets. They can go
to a shelter. They are only in the streets because they want to be.²
I told him there is no room in the shelter; the people are standing on the
steps waiting to get in from the cold and rain. If you have a voucher number
to enter some shelter employees will sell your number to another homeless
person for five dollars. If you do get in, the employees at the shelter are
inhumane and rude yelling, calling the residents bad names, and treating
them as though they were bad dogs.
I said, ³I can tell by the way you are dressed that you would not put up
with that.² (He was in a fresh pressed dress shirt and tie; fresh pressed
pants, beauty parlor hair and perfume.)
Seth asked, ³How many people do you think are on the streets?²
I said, ³The Coalition on Homelessness estimates about 12 to 14 thousand,
but I donıt count everyone I see; I donıt know. However, if you come out
here in the streets with me you can count them for yourself.
Unidentified Employee: ³You donıt have a place to live or a job right now?
Well, you can get a job if you want one. All you have to do is walk on a job
site, and ask for a job; they will put you to work.²
I told him I asked the man in charge of a construction job downtown for a
position, and he said he had no openings.
Unidentified Employee: ³Any construction job South of Market will hire you.²
³I tried the sites South of Market; they said there were no openings; they
³Tell him you will do anything; pick up papers!² (What this man didnıt seem
to know was that, aside from paying me, an employer also has to cover me
with insurance or he can be sued in case of my injury.)
Then I told the unidentified man that I was already promised a job by the
Mayorıs program run through the Mission Hiring Hall the Seismic Retrofit
Consortium which was supposed to give me a job reinforcing buildings
against earthquakes. They had me sitting in that office calling and calling
on phone for four months still no work.
³You donıt have to wait for them. The homeless can work, all they have to do
is go to work.²
I said, ³If itıs so easy why donıt you come out here this week end with me
and sleep under those shopping carts, then go to work.
Seth gave me his card, saying ³If you need a job come to my office right
now. I will get you a job and a place to live.²
I asked, ³What about the man in the Mayorıs Retrofit Program that promised
me a job?² (I asked this because it felt like a bribe, since I was still
Seth says, ³Just tell me who he is; I will fire him! Come in my office right
now!² (I am tempted, but I do not want another person on the streets.)
Unidentified Employee: ³Where do you live?²
³On the streets, in a box.²
³But where what location?²
³Iım not telling. I do not want you sending the police to my location to
At this point a well-dressed Caucasian man approaches us and says, ³How you
do?² to Seth and the other man. To me, he asks, ³Why do you want to recall
³He has not delivered the promised jobs.²(I later found the white man is
named Rich, and is an attorney for the City.)
Rich says, ³The unemployed can work anytime they want. All they have to do
is go get a job. You are unemployed now right? You could be looking for a
job right now instead of standing here.²
I replied, ³Iıve got a job.²
³What is it?²
³Collecting these signatures.²
³Then Jim Reid is paying you for these signatures?² Seth asks.
Rich says, ³You know, when my father came here from Italy no one gave him a
thing. He worked with his hands, and provided a living. If you wanted a job
you could walk into a job at anytime, they would hire you. There is nothing
wrong with you.²
I said, ³Well, I went right over there to the Asian Art Museum and asked for
a job. The man in charge said no.²
³All you have to do is go South of Market Street and you can find a job.
These guys over here are union workers on a non-union job site. Anybody can
find a job if they want; but these homeless come here to take advantage of
our good weather and GA money.²
Seth piped in, ³I donıt believe there are 14 thousand homeless in this city
as stated by the Coalition on Homelessness. I donıt believe what George
Smith says either that there are four thousand. I put the number at eight
thousand. But what is your fifth reason to seek recall of Willie Brown? You
only gave four.²
I answered, ³The fifth reason is that Willie Brown did not move the waste
treatment plant from Bayview Hunters Point as he had promised voters he
would but he instead expanded its size."
Seth says, ³Mayor Willie Brown has begun legislation which will handle the
dot com lofts by 2001; he has begun to enact legislation which will address
the homeless issue by 2002; he is enacting legislation which will deal with
MUNI by 2003; he has begun legislation which will address unemployment in
Bayview Hunters Point in 2004...²
I interrupted him, asking ³How can you be that naive? How can you believe
anything they tell you inside City Hall?²
Seth replied, ³I told you I did not believe George Smith about four thousand
homeless on the streets of this City. How can you say that? Besides, if you
did not have Willie Brown if you recalled him who would you have as
I said, ³I donıt know.²
At that moment Jim Reid came back, and having heard the question blurted out
a name. But I did not catch it because someone had just stopped to sign the
petition to recall Willie Brown.
The three of them then left Jim Reid and myself alone on the sidewalk to
This I state and affirm as true,
"We must find out what words are and how they function. They become images
when written down, but images of words repeated in the mind and not of the
image of the thing itself."
- W.S. Burroughs
A Publication of the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415 / 346.3740 - voice
415 / 775.5639 - fax
inyaface--chunky style pt 1