[Hpn] Metal detectors slated for S.F. shelters

chance martin streetsht@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 25 Feb 2003 14:21:01 -0800


San Francisco EXAMINER
Publication date: 02/25/2003

Metal detectors slated for S.F. shelters
Of The Examiner Staff

City officials are working with The City's three largest homeless shelters
to improve safety in advance of the July 1 implementation of Care Not Cash,
which will cut cash grants to homeless when beds are available.

Steve Arcelona, Department of Human Services chief of staff, said surveys of
shelter staff and clients found that more than two-thirds would feel safer
if metal detectors were in place.

"There has been a concern about security in the shelters. It is one of the
areas and ways we are exploring and we are discussing it with the directors
of the three shelters to get their input," Arcelona said.

The three shelters, MSC South, NextDoor and Episcopal Shelter, share nearly
900 beds.

Chance Martin of the Coalition on Homelessness said metal detectors are a
done deal, and that old metal detectors from SFO will be used.

Well-trained staff paid a living wage, and perhaps security guards, would be
the best deterrent to violence, Martin said.

"Homeless people are just like me and you," he said. "When there is a
uniformed security guard, they listen to what they say."

Martin said metal detectors might be problematic for homeless people who are
very protective about their belongings, but agreed that safety is a real

"Any time that you have a catchall, congregant-living situation like that,
yeah, it's violent," Martin said.

In September, an apparently drunk transient calling himself "Dawg of New
York," attacked and stabbed a shelter volunteer.

Supervisor Gavin Newsom, sponsor of Care Not Cash and a mayoral candidate,
has promised to improve shelter safety as part of its implementation.

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