[Hpn] There's HOPE for the homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Wed, 29 Mar 2006 08:52:03 -0500


There's HOPE for the homeless

Edward Carpenter, The Examiner

Mar 29, 2006

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - For Melva Johnson, a mother of three, finding housing
was the first step to getting back on her feet after her marriage fell
apart, she was downsized at work and then became homeless.

Johnson, who ended up finding housing for herself and her daughters last
summer with nonprofit Shelter Network in Burlingame, embodies the face of
homelessness in San Mateo County, according to officials. In fact, she is
just the type of person a new 10-year plan to end homelessness approved
Tuesday by supervisors would help, according to President of the Board of
Supervisors Jerry Hill.
Under the Housing Our People Effectively plan, the county recommends
constructing 7,900 permanent affordable housing units by 2015 for those in
critical need. The units would range from duplexes to multiunit complexes
and rents could be subsidized as much as 70 percent while clients establish
themselves, said Stephen Kaplan Director of Substance Abuse and Shelter
Services .
Connecting the homeless to the proper medical, mental health and support
services on an ongoing basis is a key element of the plan.
"We can eradicate homelessness provided we make the commitment to do so, and
provided it is recognized as the national issue that it is," said Supervisor
Mark Church at Tuesday's board meeting, repeating words he first uttered
five years ago.
Since that time the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness has been
established with the purpose of aiding local jurisdictions to implement
their 10-year plans to do away with homelessness, Church said.
Supportive housing - which it is estimated will cost Peninsula cities and
developers about $1.5 billion over a decade - has been shown to reduce the
number of emergency visits and incarceration of the homeless by as much as
50 percent, as well as increase their income by the same amount, Kaplan
said. Increasing the taxes the homeless pay through employment is key to
saving taxpayers money in the long run when providing such services have
been shown to cost cities between $40,000 and $70,000 for each individual,
officials said.

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