by Gwendolyn Westbrook
On behalf of United Council, our board and many citizens of Bayview Hunters Point, I am calling for public support for the 100-bed housing facility to be located at 2115 Jennings St. next to United Council of Human Services. Our agency collected 1,500 signatures supporting the first facility for the homeless in Bayview Hunters Point to be equipped with beds.
We need your support in making the 100-bed facility a reality.
In a Bay View story about the United Council – commonly and lovingly referred to by most area residents as Mother Brown’s – earlier this year, Betty McGee wrote: “We met a young lady, Pat, who describes the rest of her evening in (United Services’) Drop-In Resource Center. She is thankful not to have to sleep in the streets tonight. She intends to sleep inside with only a chair to accommodate her need for safe sleep. Pat is looking forward to the day when the full service bed facility materializes in Bayview Hunters Point where many will not have to resort to chairs or sleeping on the floor in a church.”
“Each night, roughly 45 men and women curl up in chairs or on the floor of a drop-in center in the Bayview neighborhood in hopes of getting some sleep,” reported the Examiner in a story headlined “Proposed Bayview homeless shelter would provide service where it is needed” last May.
“They turn to these rigid and uncomfortable seats, which can be unhealthy when used as beds, because they have no other place to go. Most beds for homeless people in The City are full, and there is no permanent shelter alternative in the neighborhood.
“But one organization is trying to change that. Members of the United Council of Human Services — which runs Mother Brown’s Dining Room and the drop-in center — is hoping to open a 100-bed homeless shelter in an empty building next to its current location on Jennings Street,” the Examiner explained.
On behalf of United Council, our board and many citizens of Bayview Hunters Point, I am calling for public support for the 100-bed housing facility to be located at 2115 Jennings St. next to United Council of Human Services.
According to an article last year in the San Francisco Public Press, homelessness in Bayview Hunters Point nearly tripled from 444 to 1,151 in a span of three years. The San Francisco Human Services Agency reports the number has since grown to 1,900, accounting for approximately 48 percent of the City’s total homeless population. These statistics support the 2013 findings of Project Homeless Connect that Bayview Hunters Point has the second largest homeless population in San Francisco.
The reasons for the increase in homelessness in this neighborhood are not primarily substance abuse and/or mental health issues; rather it’s the loss of employment by residents who were gainfully employed before the economic downturn. Lack of employment compelled many to give up their place of residence prior to expiration of their unemployment benefits.
Most are now living on San Francisco General Assistance that averages only $345 per month. Yet the United Council of Human Services is discovering that many clients applying for services have attained bachelors, masters and even doctoral degrees.
Bayview Hunters Point has the second largest homeless population in San Francisco.
The changing nature of the homeless population must match the changing services offered in our community. We wish to assist the many people who as a last resort are living in their automobiles. In the new facility, preference will be given to senior citizens and other homeless people in Bayview Hunters Point. The need for the 100-bed facility is overdue if we are to address homelessness as a major health issue in San Francisco.
As the CEO of United Council of Human Services, I am calling for full support of the homeless beds facility, which will benefit many working-class residents and other homeless citizens of Bayview Hunters Point. Opening the homeless bed facility will increase the overall economic base in the community and improve the quality of life for everyone. A homeless bed facility is essential in the neighborhood with the City’s second largest concentration of homelessness.
We need your support in making the 100-bed facility a reality. If you wish to pledge your support, please contact the office of Supervisor Malia Cohen at (415) 554-7671.
Gwendolyn Westbrook, CEO for United Council of Human Services, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 671-1100.