After ruling that Ruby Rippey-Tourk’s alcohol problem represented a “catastrophic illness,” San Francisco Health Director Mitch Katz now seeks to kill the city’s most effective program for addressing the needs of formerly homeless single adults living in SRO’s. After initially seeking to cut the funding for SRO Collaboratives by $100,000, Katz will ask the Health Commission today to approve a budget that would eliminate funding for the $850,000 program entirely. Neither Katz nor any member of DPH bothered to inform the many SRO Collaborative staff about the proposed cuts. Meanwhile, on the same agenda the Health Department seeks to award a multimillion dollar sole source contract to the Tides Foundation---in clear conflict with Mayor Newsom’s edict against such sole sourcing.
Something very odd is going on in the Health Department these days. After Mitch Katz’s bizarre and unprecendented ruling that Ruby Rippey-Tourk’s alcoholism was a “catastrophic illness, the Director now seeks to eliminate the most effective program dealing with formerly homeless single adults---the SRO Collaboratives.
The Mission, Tenderloin and Chinatown SRO Collaboratives organize fire prevention workshops and a long list of services ranging from writing workshops to meditation sessions to SRO tenants. The programs are widely credited with encouraging tenant stability, particularly in hotels housing formerly homeless tenants through Mayor Newsom’s Care not Cash program and DPH’s Direct Access to Housing program.
What makes the Director’s action so odd is that the Health Department does not fund the Collaboratives. Rather, they are funded by the Department of Building Inspection, which then sends the money to DPH to administer the program.
Unless Katz thinks DBI will keep the money flowing to fund other DPH programs---which is highly unlikely---then eliminating the Collaboratives will not save DPH any money. So it is a mystery why he is scaring a lot of low-income tenants—many with disabilities and health problems-- about the loss of a program they depend upon
Also odd on the Health Commission agenda is an item awarding over $5 million to the Tides Foundation in a sole-source contract to manage leased hotels. Gavin Newsom denounced such sole sourcing as a Supervisor, and has insisted as Mayor that all contracts be decided through Requests for Proposals (RFPs).
Did the Health Department get a waiver from this mayoral requirement? I never got a press release announcing a change in mayoral policy, and believe that city departments are issuing RFP’s for all new contractors as a matter of course.
I guess it is not just in Rippey-Tourk’s case that DPH feels it can play by its own set of rules.
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