[Hpn] Floating "Hostels" for those called Homeless - temporary shelter - NOT housing

H C Covington H C Covington <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Wed, 01 Jan 2003 19:28:09 -0600

Floating "Hostels" for those called Homeless - Will it work?
Will they help? What do you think?

In the recent press, New York and San Francisco are "considering"
the use of floating "Hostels for the Homeless" (see article below).

In California, this was discussed in the early 1990s and
proposed again in FY 2000 by the Mayors Task Force on
Homelessness.  It is on the table again. (See definition of a
Hostel at the bottom of the page.)

How do feel about a 1,200 room Hostel facility that is "self
contained" with medical services, education, job training,
mini-mart, barber and beauty shops, clothing store, day care,
recreational facilities, pool, mental health, on-board jobs, etc?

If such a facility could be established in either New York or San
Francisco as a "Pilot Program" would you want to live on the USS
Hostel for a time to get back on your feet?

Do you feel that this type of temporary Shelter would be better
for long term homeless folks (chronic homeless) or quick turn-
around first timers that need limited help to establish themselves?

What do you think?

How do you feel about this as a temporary measure to provide "Shelter"
(not housing) long enough to build more affordable housing availability ?

In the area of offshore Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, there
are a number of smaller "Living Quarters" (shallow water barges)
that are self contained and that can shelter 100 to 250 people.

They are used as support facilities for offshore construction
work. Could smaller units like these be considered in smaller
areas for temporary Hostel quarters too?

Remember, these are NOT suggested as "housing," but more like
short term Shelters to allow some form of living enviroment with
supportive services (when needed) without having to invest
thousands and thousands of dollars to buy land and build buildings.

If buildings are to be funded and constructed, it is my opinion the
buildings should be for long term or permanent rental housing units
(with and without supportive services.)

What do you think?

H. C. [Sonny] Covington
"Remember - to be truly helpful to, those called homeless, we must
 make housing possible, rather  than  despair convincing"


Housing idea: USS Homeless
BY MINERVA PEREZ - The San Francisco Examiner - December 30, 2002

The Rev. Amos Brown, a former supervisor, has a novel idea for
fixing The City's seemingly intractable homelessness problem --
converting part of the U.S. Navy's "mothball fleet" into temporary
homeless shelters.

"It's our responsibility as a civil society to help them," said Brown,
referring to the estimated thousands of homeless people in San
Francisco. "What we do doesn't work. We have to rethink the

His solution is the former USS Proteus.

After its service as a submarine tender ended in 1992, the
Proteus was converted into a berthing barge, a home away from
home for sailors whose ships were being renovated. Now it sits
inactive as part of a mothball fleet of close to a dozen warships
at Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in Benicia.

Complete with laundry facilities, fitness center, store and
barbershop, the 1,200-room barge is big enough to house hundreds,
maybe thousands, of homeless people. Brown, the minister of The
City's Third Baptist Church, is hoping private donations will
help pay for his idea, and he also is exploring state and federal

It would cost about $4 million to refurbish the ship, including
making it handicapped-accessible, but that wouldn't include the
ongoing cost of providing shelter. Brown envisions berthing the
ship near Bayview-Hunters Point.

Jerry Royal, marketing manager of maritime for the San Francisco
Port Authority, says the cost of berthing a ship on port land
depends on the size and duration of stay. The average is $4,000
to $5,000 a day for a "24-hour parking permit," Royal says.

Brown thinks his idea is more viable than ever because of the
changing attitudes on strategies on how to deal with the homeless.

For instance, the recent passage of Supervisor Gavin Newsom's
Care Not Cash initiative, which replaces cash welfare grants with
vouchers for services, is a step in a different direction in how
The City deals with homelessness.

Homeless advocates say the idea of housing people on ships is all wet.

"It wasn't a lack of Navy ships that caused homelessness," says
Paul Boden, director of The Coalition on Homelessness. "After 20
years I find it sad that we are heading that way."

New York City has been considering the idea of using retired
cruise ships as shelters. Jim Anderson, spokesman for the New
York City Department of Homeless Services, says his department is
only assessing the viability of the idea.

Brown says he is open to the idea of using any kind of ship, but
the local abundance of inactive vessels just makes more sense at
the moment.

"Sailors lived on them for months," said Brown. "There are people
living on house boats and (there are) restaurants on boats."

The fault with Brown's idea, according to Boden and shelter
administrators, is the location of the ship and the difficulty of
providing services to any potential residents.

Even if Bayview residents were to accept a ship full of homeless
people offshore, activists say, it would be too far away from
facilities providing mental health care, substance abuse
counseling, and vocational training, many of which are located in
the mid-Market and South of Market neighborhoods.

"We are aware of it and we are looking at any possible way to
house people at the most efficient and humane manner," says
Michael Farrah, aid to Newsom, of Brown's idea.

Brown is not talking about keeping homeless on ships forever. He
hopes to provide the same quality of services on board the
Proteus as is found in The City .

"It doesn't make sense to keep them idle," Brown says. "Ships
used to kill people are being used to heal."
© Homeless News source:


What is a Hostel?

A hostel provides supervised free (or low cost) communal

They are able to do this by cutting out a lot of the amenities
provided by regular hotels and motels. The hostel usually
provides what is referred to as the "three Sís" - Shelter, Shower
and Security. Instead of 3 hots and a cot, it's 3 hots and a bunk.

Usually, sleeping arrangements are in dormitory-like rooms with
bunk beds. For the most part, male and female sleeping quarters
are separate. Other areas of the hostel are communal, and may
include a kitchen, living area, recreation areas, showers and