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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Calling All San Franciscans: Help Homeless Stay Dry in the Super-Storm

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 4:54 PM

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School kids have the day off and some employers are letting employees work from home (ahem). The pending storm has everyone preparing for the worst.

But what about the homeless — you know the people who have no way of preparing for this storm that's supposed to bring eight inches of rain and 50 mph winds?

Since yesterday, San Francisco government has called up recreation centers, churches, and anyone they can to ask they open up shelter spaces, officials say. They're also trying to spread the word on how homeless folks can stay safe from the wind and rain.

Bevan Dufty, the city's homeless czar and director of the city's homeless agency HOPE, tells SF Weekly that there are 1,145 shelter beds in San Francisco, and they're looking to expand shelter availability throughout the storm. 

But as of Wednesday's, there were 6,436 homeless in the city; nearly 1,000 counted in the day time were children and youth. That's a lot of people left in the cold, wet rain, and a lot of people facing a potential health risk, Jenny Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness tells us. 

Out in the rain, "you see minor health issues turning into a major mess," she says. "A bad cold could become a chest infection, and easily become pneumonia." 

SFPD officers and the Homeless Outreach Team have been out on the streets this week, advising every homeless person they can on how to find shelter fast. Available shelters include the Gene Friend Recreation Center, MSC South shelters, St. Anthony's Church, St. Boniface church, Mother Brown's shelter in the Bayview, the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, and others to house the homeless during the day, and during the night, throughout the storm. 

"I think we're really pushing on all fronts to provide maximum capacity," Dufty says. "Several hundred people will have access to shelter."

Homeless advocates are asking you to take a short moment out of your day, print out information for the homeless, and tell them where they can find shelter.  

Other things you can do:
  • If you see a homeless person in need of shelter, call the HOT team at 415-734-4233. They're offering transportation to the city's shelters.

  • If you have extra tarps, raincoats, blankets or anything to help keep warm, please donate it to a homeless person. 

  • Also, here's the SFPD's list of available shelters below — give it to homeless people: 
Emergency Shelters for Coming Storm for Homeless Individuals

Gene Friend Recreation Center ( 270 6th Street @ Folsom) will be open from 5:00 p.m. this evening to accommodate individuals without housing or shelter. Depending on weather conditions it can be open until Friday. Up to 169 individuals will be able to stay and director Trent Rhorer and the Human Services Agency will manage and staff this emergency facility.

MSC South, our 330 bed shelter and an additional 70 drop-in slots will remain open Thursday – it is usually closed during the daytime. Episcopal Community Services Shelters, Sanctuary and Next Door, are open daytime, as well.

The Gubbio Project at St. Boniface and St. Anthony’s are collaborating to provide round-the-clock respite for up to 100 individuals. Today and tomorrow, the Gubbio Project will allow individuals to stay in the pews of St. Boniface Church ( 133 Golden Gate/between Leavenworth and Jones) from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., both Wednesday and Thursday, up to 100 individuals will be able to stay in the new St. Anthony’s Dining Hall (121 Golden Gate) overnight until 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

Mission Neighborhood Resource Center (MNRC) and Mother Brown’s in the Bayview (United Council of Human Services) will extend hours so that people can stay out of the rain and wind. MNRC will stay open until 9 p.m. this evening and will open early at 5:00 a.m. Mother Brown’s will be open throughout the storm.

HSA is in discussion with First Friendship (50-55 family members), Bethel AME Church (up to 30 Women for Emergency Winter Shelter) and Providence Foundation (up to 110 individuals and family members) about remaining open during the day tomorrow. We will update as any facilities are confirmed to remain open.

Barbara Garcia and the Department of Public Health will have SFHOT in full operation to make transports to open facilities. DPH is also prepared to allow individuals to be in chairs in SFHOT’s Offices at 50 Ivy Street as well as additional slots at the DPH Sobering Center, 1171 Mission Street near 8th Street. This can accommodate up to 30-50 individuals, focusing on individuals living on the streets around Civic Center.
Even with the help, hundreds may still be vulnerable to the storm. Tommi Avicolli Mecca, of the Housing Rights Committee, says the prospect is frightening.

"The storm is coming, we knew it was coming, so why hasn't there been a major effort to prepare to accommodate everyone on the streets?" he says. "The worst case scenario is, people die."

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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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