[Hpn] SF Mayor Is Hoping To Provide Permanent Housing For Homeless Seniors

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Mon, 15 Aug 2005 04:07:29 -0400


Mayor hopes to make good on housing promise
Newly refurbished Raman to house homeless seniors
By Jo Stanley
Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, August 14, 2005

It may have taken longer than expected, but Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to make
good on a year-old promise to provide permanent housing for homeless seniors
with the reopening today of the former Raymond Hotel on Howard Street.

The doors of the hotel, renamed the Raman, will open first to seven tenants
who lost their homes in a four-alarm fire in 2001. But within a few weeks,
up to 78 homeless people over the age of 65 are scheduled to begin moving
out of the shelter system, according to Trent Rhorer of the Department of
Human Services. However, a second phase also announced in September, to
expand the program for anyone over 60, has been set aside.

Rhorer and his staff member in charge of homelessness, Dariush Kayhan, both
said it remains a goal to offer safer alternatives for vulnerable
populations such as seniors and women. But they're not specifically
earmarked in this year's budget, although several other single-room
occupancy hotels could accommodate older and female shelter residents.

The revival of the Raymond is one of several late-summer happenings related
to The City's emphasis on setting up permanent, supportive homes quickly
instead of trying to gradually ease people off the street through a mix of
emergency shelter and services. The City's current estimate of homeless
people is 6,248 - with roughly half considered to be chronically homeless -
including 2,500 on the street, 1,750 in shelters and several hundred more in
jail or under medical care, in addition to the 1,000 or so already housed.

In September a new facility at the Coronado Hotel in the Tenderloin is
opening for people coming straight off the street with a variety of mental
health or other pressing needs. The hotel has 52 permanent units and 13
stabilization, or transitional, ones. Also sometime in the next 12 months,
The City plans to open a dedicated facility for people without a place to
live when they are discharged from the hospital and need follow-up help to
avoid a return trip.

In the meantime, the committee trying to reach The City's severely disabled
homeless people is scheduled to hold its first public hearing at the end of
the month. The Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, along with
progress made during the past year or so, is scheduled to be discussed on
Aug. 31 at City Hall.

Angela Alioto, who heads the group, says she applauds any outreach efforts,
because helping the chronically homeless will improve lives and save money
by reducing emergency care costs. "Under the Ten Year Plan one person housed
with support costs $17,000 a year, whereas that same person chronically
sleeping on the streets costs $67,000."

Jennifer Friedenbach, a member of the Coalition on Homelessness as well as
Alioto's committee, said she also supports the housing-first model. But she
said that goal is harder to pursue at full tilt when much of The City's
funding is going to Care Not Cash, or local welfare, clients who don't
qualify for disability or veterans' benefits.

"Welfare recipients tend to be higher-functioning," Friedenbach said. She
added that creating 3,000 supportive housing units is a great idea, but
plans to do so are currently underfunded by some $26 million. She suggested
that a bond measure could close the gap.

E-mail: jstanley@examiner.com