Zero Tolerance Part Of Reilly's Homeless Plan: SF Mayor's Race

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 10:15:26 -0700 (PDT)


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/1999/07/01/MN1029
84.DTL&type=printable
FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - Thursday, July 1, 1999

     REILLY OFFERS HIS PLAN FOR HOMELESS

     Brown aides say proposal is similar to existing programs

     Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

San Francisco mayoral candidate Clint Reilly outlined a
strategy yesterday for dealing with the city's continuing homeless
crisis that he said combines compassion with a crackdown.

Mayor Willie Brown's campaign aides responded by saying that
Reilly's seven-point proposal showed a high level of naivete and
incorporates many things Brown has already done in dealing with a
problem that ranks as one of voters' top concerns.

Reilly, who unveiled his plan across the street from St. Anthony's
Dining Room in the Tenderloin as a few hundred people lined up for a
free lunch, didn't limit his criticism to Brown. He said that former
mayors Art Agnos and Frank Jordan -- whose unsuccessful 1995
re-election campaign against Brown was managed by Reilly -- also
failed to handle the homeless problem.

Jordan is still considering jumping into this year's race against
Reilly and Brown.

``Mayor after mayor in San Francisco has failed to provide answers
to the human problems faced by homeless people, and to the
neighborhood problems cause by homelessness. But no mayor has failed
so dramatically as Willie Brown,'' Reilly said in passing out a
48-page booklet detailing his plan.

He charged that Brown's inconsistency, veering from crackdowns to
handouts, has made a wreck of homeless policy and spread the problem
into neighborhoods far from downtown.

Reilly didn't promise any easy solutions. ``I acknowledge that
there are no quick fixes to the problems adding up to homelessness,''
he said in his booklet.

Specifically, Reilly proposed doing a citywide census of the
homeless to see how widespread the problem is. He also called for
more help for homeless women, children and families and for replacing
the two-year-old Mission Rock Shelter, which he called a ``civic
embarrassment.''

Other points included changing policy on general assistance
payments to create a voucher system so that payments don't end up
being spent on drugs or alcohol. He also suggested more daytime
shelters for the mentally ill, a ``zero-tolerance policy'' on petty
street crime and extending a program used by some merchants that
encourages people to donate to homeless-help groups instead of giving
money to panhandlers.

Reilly's proposals are nothing new, said P. J Johnston, a spokesman
for Brown's campaign.

``All seven of his main points are already part of the existing
network of services,'' he said. ``It looks like he is endorsing the
continuum of care plan that Mayor Brown has already put forward.

``Here's a wealthy political consultant with no experience in any
public office coming up with slogans more than solutions. His lack of
experience really shows,'' said Johnston.

Specifically, Johnston said the city already has done federally
required estimates of the numbers of homeless that found about 1,800
people live permanently on the streets. In all, the city reported to
Washington that 12,000 are without permanent housing.

The mayor has put more emphasis on helping homeless families, who
form the fastest-growing part of the problem, and already made
general assistance reforms, Johnston said. Recipients of the $354
monthly stipend are required to participate in job training or
addiction treatment, or the benefit is slashed to $287 a month.

The Mission Rock shelter was defended by City Administrator Bill
Lee, an official independent of the mayor. Lee was instrumental in
setting up the waterfront shelter two winters ago, and said it
performs a valuable service.

``Is it better to have a shelter with a roof over people's heads,
with three meals a day and referral services?'' he asked. ``The
answer is yes. We actually do a good job.''

Johnston said the city already has an expanding network of drop-in
centers where homeless with mental problems can get help, as well as
eight teams that roam the city trying to get people into programs.

The mayor also has no objections to efforts to stop people from
giving change away, he said.

As for street crime, Brown's administration has been attacked by
the Coalition on Homelessness as being even tougher than Jordan,
whose Matrix program was the source of continuing controversy.

That's one of the problems, Reilly said.

``We have a sporadic police harassment policy that pushes the
homeless out of Willie Brown's backyard in the Civic Center and into
the neighborhoods,'' he said. ``The policies of the Jordan
administration and the Brown administration have proven to be a
failure . . . They have relied too heavily on pure police tactics.''

Jordan described Reilly's criticism as self-defeating. ``Clint
Reilly attacking me now affects his own credibility. He promoted my
homeless program when he ran my campaign,'' Jordan said last night.

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