SF's Presidio offers students units: include homeless, advocates

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 4 Sep 1998 14:45:01 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - Thursday, September 3, 1998


     Linnea Ashley, Chronicle Staff Writer

       A plan to house college students at San Francisco's Presidio has
reignited the debate over whether to provide some of the residences there
for homeless people.

       Starting Saturday, units at the now defunct Army base will be leased
to students and college faculty to ease a housing crunch that has left the
city with few, if any, affordable places to live.

       The new tenants, about 150 of them, will sign leases for 47 units
within the sprawling, lush, parklike setting that is slowly being converted
to civilian use. They will live in some of the 466 units in the Wherry
housing tract on the southwest end of the Presidio near Baker Beach.

       But homeless advocates, while pleased that some low-cost housing is
being made available, wonder why none is being offered to the swelling
ranks of poor people who have had no living quarters for years.

       ``It creates the implication that they're happy to have students but
not low-income families,'' said Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing
Clinic, who believes that housing homeless people should be as much a
priority as housing students. ``It seems very obvious if you're going to
have students there you can have homeless families and people. Certainly,
this is going to raise some controversy that the Presidio doesn't need.''

       Jim Meadows, executive director of the Presidio Trust, which manages
the 1,480-acre facility, said the Presidio has a program that will help
provide housing for about 100 homeless veterans but they are not a part of
the housing arrangement that will take effect this weekend.

       Instead, he said, the current program is focusing on students who
typically scramble to find housing in San Francisco because the vacancy
rate is so low and the rents are so high.


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