48 ARRESTED in SF protest: Religious Witness for Homeless People

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 21:22:14 -0700 (PDT)


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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/examiner/hotnews/stories/19/homeles
s.dtl&type=printable
FWD  San Francisco Examiner - Monday, April 19, 1999

     48 ARRESTED IN PROTEST AT CITY HALL

     GROUP: S.F. MAYOR ABANDONED HOMELESS

     Examiner Staff Report

Police arrested 48 people in front of City Hall Sunday, after demonstrators
blocked traffic to protest what they called Mayor Willie Brown's
abandonment of homeless issues.

Leaders of the group, Religious Witness for Homeless People, blamed Brown
for failing to pressure the federal government to open vacant housing in
the Presidio to the homeless - even though voters approved an initiative
last June calling for wider housing availability there. The group worked
with Brown and the Board of Supervisors to put the successful Measure L on
the ballot.

Since then, the mayor "has been foot dragging," said leader Sister Bernie
Galvin. "The only people being excluded from housing in the Presidio are
the poor."

More than 1,000 units of housing on the former base are to be rented - at
up to $3,000 a month - to college students and employees of the National
Park Service, which now controls the land.

Although a board of trustees controls the fate of the Presidio lands,
Galvin said Brown has the power to negotiate on behalf of the poor by
threatening to withdraw city services to the new national park.

"There are not enough homes in this city for people who need them," said
activist Jeff Johnson. "There are not enough shelter spaces."

Brown did not attend the event. But his ally, San Francisco Supervisor Amos
Brown, said "The Presidio is not the only tract of land in The City, it is
not the only place there are buildings. So I do not see why we should fix .
. . our energies on one area."

For years the group staged frequent demonstrations to open Presidio housing
to the poor, but last spring it declared it would abandon its protests and
try to work with city officials.

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