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The Vice Hotel 

One of the largest city-funded Care Not Cash hotels was allegedly run as a home for extortion, drug dealing, and other vices

Wednesday, Oct 10 2007
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However, as a branch of THC, which is the city's largest private low-income hotel landlord, such programs create a troubling situation where the organization is able to handle complaints in-house. Tenants groused to me about speaking with SRO Collaborative lawyers, only to find that they'd been identified to a building manager as a complainer. The widespread view among THC tenants is that this system of in-house advocacy means that complaints against THC can be swept under the rug.

Critics say Shaw has positioned himself as a left-wing "progressive" leader, allying himself with leading politicians such as Supervisor Chris Daly. At the same time, Shaw's organization provides a valuable political service to Gavin Newsom by carrying out the lion's share of the mayor's Care Not Cash program. News about possible problems in THC hotels can reflect badly on these politicians.

[[Readers' Note: Paragraph Deleted]]

[[Correction Note: In the Oct. 10 story "The Vice Hotel," we incorrectly stated that the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) spent $1 million of its $18 million budget during 2005 on lobbying expenses. The error was due to a misreading of the nonprofit's IRS filings. Those filings actually state that the clinic spent no money on lobbying expenses that year. Columnist Matt Smith took THC's $1 million "lobbying nontaxable amount" entry to mean that the nonprofit had spent that much money on lobbying. In fact, this line refers to the maximum amount the IRS allows a charity to spend on lobbying without paying tax. SF Weekly regrets the error.]]

The tragedy of the Mission Hotel is that well-meaning San Franciscans pay a fortune so that this type of "supportive housing" might provide a refuge from the violence, drug dealing, and despair of the streets. Indeed, Shaw himself characterizes the hotel this way in his recent Beyond Chron item:

"Smith views the housing of over 2,000 formerly homeless single adults in decent, safe, and affordable housing as a failure. Smith seems completely unrestricted by facts and objective reality, and like our President, feels more comfortable inventing his own world."

Residents, however, say the Mission Hotel is one of the more dangerous places they've been.

Emmett Oliver, for instance, keeps his eye on the straight and narrow while attempting to suppress his anger about what he sees as a treacherous environment at the Mission Hotel.

"I'm not dealing, and I'm going to make damned sure you're not dealing, too," Oliver said during our first meeting, by way of explaining his theory of nuisance abatement. "It's the city that pays for this place. So we shouldn't have to live this way."

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Matt Smith

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