Supportive Housing; Sophie Maxwell and Muni Budget; Harvey Milk Banned; More on Prop 8 Court Decision; Better School Lunches …

by on May 29, 2009

My Public & Supportive Housing Wish List

I read with much interest and agreement with, Randy Shaw’s May 12 and May 27 articles on San Francisco’s requests for proposals or qualifications for selecting contractors. Although somewhat tangential to the issues you raise, here is my “two cents” worth.

In December 2006, I provided suggestions on Public & Supportive Housing to the Mayor’s Office of Public Policy & Finance. I received no response. Among my suggestions were the following:

San Francisco direct an independent audit of evictions of all public and supportive housing management companies. The audit should include those tenants coerced into vacating by threat of eviction. How many homeless stay housed is just as important as how many are housed, and in my experience too many do not stay housed. This is relevant to whether the present management companies are applying “best practices” to serve the needs of their tenants. (I had also presented this suggestion/request to Mayor Newsom in a November 2006 open letter. Again with no response.) A periodic independent audit should be included in any contract for management company services for government-funded public and supported housing programs

Require public hearings whenever a contract or contract renewal for management company services for government-funded public and supported housing programs is being considered. Tenants, former tenants, and housing advocates should be encouraged to provide input during the bidding process.

An independent panel be established to hear appeals of denials of government-funded public and supportive housing programs. This could be modeled after the Shelter Plus Care appeal procedure when a subsidy is in jeopardy. An advocate should be provided for the hearing. Too often a person referred for housing is denied housing by a management company and then the same management company decides the appeal of this denial. In my opinion, this is a denial of due process. Make this a requirement when the City contracts with landlord/management companies.

The criteria for acceptance at public & supportive housing should be standardized for all management companies. Each management company seems to have its own criteria. The criteria should not be the same as for market rate housing. For example, a poor credit rating or a prior eviction for non-payment of rent should not necessarily preclude a person from housing. The homeless should not be penalized for being poor.

A homeless Ombudsman should be appointed with sufficient powers. The Ombudsman would be charged with representing the interests of the homeless by investigating and addressing complaints. Presently, there are numerous public and private agencies with some responsibility for homeless programs, but in my experience each seems to be unwilling or unable to immediately solve an injustice suffered by an individual homeless person. Too often a homeless person bounces from one agency or office to another frustrating the homeless person and wasting agency resources.

Finally, service provider staff in public housing, SROs, and shelters need to be better trained and better paid. They need to receive “poverty” sensitivity training. Too often, I encountered “blame the victim” attitudes among these staff.

Judi Iranyi, Licensed Clinical Social worker
Social Services for the Homeless Advocacy Project
Former member of San Francisco’s Shelter Monitoring Committee


To the Editor:

Re: Sophie Maxwell’s vote on the Muni budget. Yet another highly informative and excellent written article from Paul Hogarth. I like when you learn something and get a expanded understanding (why and how) from articles — not a bunch of sensationalism as we see so frequently in the mainstream press. Thank You very much, and please keep the articles about often pretty complicated things this easy to understand and informative — that’s very masterful to be able to do that.

Michael Pedersen


To the Editor:

The riders of San Francisco were thrown under the wheels yesterday when the Board of Supervisors rejected any change in the MTA budget. Even more sneaky was the implementation of recommendations of the Transit Effectiveness Project, where certain runs were enhanced to the detriment and elimination of other routes.

This was dirty politics, San Francisco style. Nathaniel Ford and MTA walked to the misery of MUNI riders. He truly is a hired gun. The MTA is an agency out of control that needs to be brought to heel. Checks and balances from the Board of Supervisors are clearly in order.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu clearly dissected where money could be saved from the MTA without increase in parking fees, fare hikes, or elimination or changes of routes. Nat Ford and Company pulled out the rug from him when they decided to implement changes based on the Transit Effectiveness Project. Now, the physically frail will suffer when they have to walk long distances from a bus stop, and riders will have to travel longer, due to transfers.

This was a well executed hatchet job which MTA does well. They make the wrong decisions and execute the wrong actions perfectly. Their motto is: “Misery Loves Passengers.”

Herbert J. Weiner
San Francisco


To the Editor:

Re: “Harvey Milk: Banned in Ramona, CA” by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca

This is one of the wackiest stories I have read in a long time. Where do these people come from? I hope the ACLU takes them for a bunch! And Superintendent Graeff should be fired, for stupidity.

Ray Zayotti


To the Editor:

Paul Hogarth presented a most interesting analysis of a tough Constitutional nut: how to grant the people its “will,” yet uphold as valid the marriages that occurred before Proposition 8. I understand judges in California are elected; I am sure this ruling helps preserve their seats. The CA electorate is very hard on sitting judges and their less popular rulings; I recall the offhand dismissal of Judge Rose Bird a few years ago. This is a very good reason to have judges appointed. I am sure this decision will not stand for long. Gay activists are right now looking for ways to overturn it and Prop 8 — and I wish them the best of luck and the best of lawyers.

Miriam Null


To the Editor:

The results of the judicial decision on Prop 8 is a good. Independent of the core issue, the question of whether or not the will of the majority can or may be over-ruled is settled, at least in this instance.

The idea of the initiative process is allowing the populous to suggest law (rules for society) by themselves without having to depend upon their slow-to-act or non-responsive representatives. A proposition is just that. Some one proposes X. If a majority of voters agree with X, then it is fair to establish X.

If you want to argue that X is not lawful as in illegal or is inconsistence with current established laws, then it is not the fault of voters supporting a proposition and any judicial adherence to the will of
the voters. The fault lies with the legal process that fails to examine the legality of proposed propositions. If there is something legally incorrect about a proposition, then that should be resolved well before reaching the attention of the voting public.

Consider asking a room full of people if they want cake and the voting results prove that a majority want cake, then cake should be offered. But if there is no cake or cake is somehow considered unacceptable (for whatever reason), then do not blame those who voted for cake.

Post-election dismissal of propositions through some legal slight of hand exercised by losers (= those who disagreed with the voting results on a proposition) renders the voters impotent.

Lawyers who are upset by this decision and the tyranny of the initiative process are crying sour grapes because the initiative process removes law/policy-making from the exclusive legerdemain (double entendre intended) from the hands of lawyers.

I now understand the Hip-hop adage “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Sheldon Ross

PAUL HOGARTH REPLIES: The lawsuit against Prop 8 was initially filed before the election, after the measure qualified for the ballot. At the time, the Court refused to hear the case because they said the issue was not ripe. In other words, they said “let’s not decide this issue right now. And if the voters don’t pass Prop 8, we will never have to.” After Prop 8 passed, the lawsuit was re-filed. Therefore, you can’t blame opponents for suing after the fact and dismiss it as “sour grapes.”


To the Editor:

I think it is stupid to raise the price of school lunches to $4-$5. It should go down to $1.50-$2, so kids can afford it.

Kyle Young


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