[Hpn] Shelter survey report: SHUT OUT... part 4

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 16:39:40 -0700

continued from part 3


"To exit homelessness, people need homes. "
					36 year old African American Male

Individuals were asked how shelter residents would exit shelters and 
homelessness in their ideal shelter. The frank responses in this 
section strongly indicate that homeless people know exactly what it 
would take to end homelessness. In sum, they needed affordable 
housing and income the most, as well as other kinds of services for 
some individuals.

Permanent Affordable Housing
The most common response by far was the need for permanent affordable 
housing to be available.  Two hundred and twenty-nine respondents 
(56%) identified this as their primary necessity.  Many respondents 
defined affordable as 30% or less of a person's income - indicating 
that housing must be affordable to even the poorest residents.

"Now there is a rotating door. Have people sign up for Section 8 
housing as soon as they get into the shelter. I thought this was 
supposed to be a place to help you."
					45 year old white female

"Need HUD housing, not slum hotels. They are roach infested, rat run 
hotels that the city knows about."
					55 year old African American male

Living Wage Jobs
The second critical necessity that individuals needed in order to 
exit homelessness was living wage jobs. 225 respondents indicated 
living wage jobs or training, education and placement as a 
prerequisite to exiting homelessness. 

There were several other items people viewed as necessary to exit 
homelessness, however these numbers drop significantly. These 
included the need for supportive housing (63 respondents), and 
transitional housing (51 respondents). Another important need 
identified was money management services, with 33 seeing this as a 
necessity before they could exit homelessness. Mental health 
treatment (37 respondents) and substance abuse treatment (62) were 
also seen as important.

Such results indicate that, while many respondents are in need of 
support services to assist them in transitioning from homelessness, 
their primary necessity is simply an affordable place to live and a 

The following is a list of numbers and percents of responses to what 
homeless respondents would need in order exit homelessness. 

Housing				238	63%
Living wage jobs			225	60%
Supportive Housing		 63	23%
Substance Abuse Treatment	 62	17%
Referrals and linkages		 53	14%
Transitional Housing		 51	14%
Mental Health Treatment		 37	 10%
Money Management		 33	 9%

less than 5% had these responses:

Longer Shelter Stays			11	 3%
Information on services			 7	 2%
Help become part of broader community	 7	 2%
Aftercare				 6	 2%
Self Help				 6	 2%
Relocation Assistance			 6	 2%
Case Management			 6	 2%
Shorter stays				 4	 1%
Family reunification			 3	 1%
Medical assistance			 2	 1%
Phone and voicemail			 2	 1%
Home ownership				 1	 0.27%

Embracing Culture

"The system is racist, not because of the color of out skin, but 
because we are homeless."
			50 year old African American male

"Respect for different cultures should be a requirement."
			23 year old White / Native American / Japanese male

Learn not to be prejudiced. Ignorance breeds prejudice. Teach about 
different cultures."
			50 year old African American female

Respondents were asked how people's different cultures should be 
respected within the shelter system. In general, respondents felt 
there should be respect for all cultures and that racism, 
discrimination and favoratism should not be tolerated. This section 
differed from other parts of the survey in that elsewhere there was a 
focus mainly on the staff as problematic. In this question, it became 
clear that both staff and clients could benefit from work cultural 
competency. Many suggestions included training and various vehicles 
of communication, and that such activities would promote 
understanding and a sense of community in the shelters.

Respect for Different Cultures
175 respondents or 50% responded that there should be a general 
respect for people's various cultures. Most respondents believe 
different cultures should be honored, promoted and encouraged by both 
staff and clients. 

Staff Should Speak Multiple Languages
116, or 33% felt that staff persons should speak the languages of 
those that they served, or that they should have translation services 
available. Given the diversity of San Francisco, this is hardly a 
surprising need.

Diverse Staff
91 or 26% felt that a diverse staff is important. Some answering this 
way said that this diverse staff should be sensitive, others said 
that they should encourage openness, and others said that a more 
diverse staff may succeed in engaging those who otherwise might not 
be reached.

Cultural Activities
20% of respondents recognized the value of cultural activities in 
expressing one's culture as well as promoting cross-cultural 
understanding.  71 people responded that there should be activities 
such as art, entertainment, ethnic food, presentations, films and 
books (and these in languages other than English).

The numbers and percents of responses to how people's cultures could 
be respected was as follows:

Respect for Different Cultures		176	50%
Staff should speak multiple languages	116	33%
Diverse Staff				 91	26%
Cultural Activities			 71	20%
Information/Training in Multiple Languages	 62	18%
No Racism, Discrimination, Racial Slurs, etc. 37	11%
Diversity Training of Staff and Clients	 36	10%
Everyone Treated Equal			 36	10%
Cultural Support Groups			 24	 7%

less than 5% had these responses:

Honor Religious Desires			  9	 3%
Separate Spaces for sub-populations	  7	 2%
Self-Governing				  6	 2%
Not Necessary				  5	 1%
Fire/Don't Hire Staff Who Discriminate	  5	 1%
Immigration Services			  2	 1%
Teach Other Languages			  2	 1%
Employ Residents				  1	  0.28%
Less Institutional				  1	  0.28%
No Segregation				  1	  0.28%
Respect of Confidentiality		  1	  0.28%

Seniors and People with Disabilities

"If you have a medical condition and have to go to the hospital, you 
shouldn't lose your bed."
					60 year old African American female

"Make allowances for people with disabilities, be able to bend rules 
such as length of stay."
					42 year old African American male

Many respondents commented that seniors and people with disabilities 
should not even be in shelters. Many commented that they should be in 
permanent housing or long-term shelters in the interim. If they are 
in the general shelters, many felt they should have priority in the 
lottery and special areas within the shelters. Although there were a 
few respondents who felt that neither seniors nor those with 
disability should get any special treatment, the vast majority showed 
great compassion for those with special needs. It is important that 
there is some consideration for this population, based on the fact 
that the elderly population is a considerable part of the city's 
population and a rapidly growing segment of the general population as 
a whole.

Staff Training
The most common response be far, was the need for staff training. 
135, or 38% responded that the staff should have special training on 
how to work with seniors and people with disabilities, or be 
qualified to work with this population. Some also mentioned that 
staff should be trained on issues relevant to veterans, some of whom 
are seniors and/or have disabilities.  Some who responded this way 
also suggested that the staff be trained in mental health issues for 
this population. 

Separate Shelter for Seniors
113, or 32% suggested that there should be separate shelters for 
senior citizens. Some who responded this way brought up issues of 
safety, of comfort, and of disrespect for elders by younger clients. 
Generally, there is understanding that seniors have different needs 
than the general population.

Separate Shelter for People with Disabilities
100 respondents or 28%, responded that there should be separate 
shelters for those with disabilities. Reasons for this response were 
often due to accessibility issues, or to concerns that they get the 
services they need.

Physical Accessibility
Many were concerned about the compliance with the ADA.  82 
respondents, or 23% expressed concern in the general area of 
accessibility.  There were concerns that there is not full access to 
the existing facilities, that the showers, toilets etc. are not 

Medical Assistance
69, or 20% of the respondents felt that a wide range of medical 
services should be available on site for seniors and people with 
disabilities.  Some of the specific issues raised were refrigerated 
medication storage; assistance getting to medical appointments; 
services such as rehabilitation, medical assistance, first aid, and 
speech therapy offered on-site; and special supplies available, such 
as Depends.

The following is a list of how respondents thought seniors and people 
with disabilities should be served by the shelter system:

Staff Qualified/Trained on Issues			135	38%
Separate Shelter for Seniors			113	32%
Separate Shelter for People with Disabilities	100	28%
Physical Accessibility				 82	23%
Medical Assistance				 69	20%
24-Hour Advise Nurse				 58	17%
Flexible Hours and Policies for Seniors/PWD	 55	16%
Priority Placement of People with Special Needs	 51	15%
Special Diet					 50	14%
Support Services					 38	11%
Multi-Service with Separate Spaces		 33	09%
Telephone Service				 19	05%

less than 5% had these responses:

Permanent Housing				15	04%
Transportation Assistance				14	04%
Email/Voicemail Service				11	03%
Safety Monitoring				11	03%
Equal (not special) Treatment			 8	02%
Clear Rules					 1	0.28%
Self Help					 1	0.28%
Screening Before Entry				 1	0.28%

A big warm thank you to all of those who made this study possible:

Survey Takers:

Able Zerfiel
Miguel Cuevas
Eric Enriques
Eduardo Palomo
Robert Williams
Mariana Viturro
Bridgette Peltekof
M.C. Ettinger
Delphine Brody
John Wilson
chance martin
Sara Gorman
Wendy Phillips
Arnette Watson
Dan Mcuew
Mel Beetle
James LaPoint
L.S. Wilson
Allison Lum
Robert (Bob) Williams
Jennifer Friedenbach
Ron Rucker
Lance Bartels
Miguel Carrera
Nancy Esteva
Scott Clark
Whirlwind Dreamer
John Melone
Thomas Batdorf
Kathleen Gray
Anthony Camel
Adam Arms
Mara Raider
Angelique Gonzales
Mary Kerles
Cheryl Johnson
Rodd Walton
Dennis Deasy
Cecilia Valentine
Benjamin Johnson


chance martin
Allison Lum
Jennifer Friedenbach
Wendy Phillips
Ceclia Valentine
John Malone
Mark Huelskotter
Mara Raider

Thanks to our volunteer translators:

Mariana Viturro
Angelique Gonzales
Tan Chow
Miguel Cuevas
Angela Chu

And our deepest appreciation to all the homeless people we surveyed,
and everyone else who helped make this effort possible.

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