I’ve been goneÂ selling books for a monthÂ so IÂ start my volunteer work with homeless young people in San Francisco again next week. I don’t yet know how the new two-week-sweep policy in Golden Gate Park is affecting the homeless young people I work with, but I would imagine the consequences are considerable. They struggle as it is with cold, hunger, lack of clothing, and lack of shelter–and the solutions offered by the governmental social system fail more often than they work.Â The article, which seems pro-Newsom (San Francisco’s mayor) and pro-sweep, indicates that the people who have been cleared out of the park have been given real help (housing, bus tickets home wherever home is) but I’m extremely skeptical. According to Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a coalition of homeless advocacy groups, every mayoral administration has done sweeps just like this–in election years–and has provided similar statistics for how many homeless people they’ve helped. According to the article, “[Boden] said it’s great for a particular person to get shelter or mental health services, but that shouldn’t be proof of success.Â ‘The issue isn’t about these individual people,’ Boden said. ‘The issue is why do people in general continue to find themselves living in Golden Gate Park? The causes stay exactly the same. It’s not rocket science.'”
Unfortunately, the only anti-sweep letter the Chronicle published was from a young woman, Erika Bernabei,Â who gave no reasons why sweeping was a bad idea and provided no alternative solutions for dealing with the problem.
Sigh. When I’m Saviour of the World and know How to Solve Every Problem Under the Sun, I’ll let you know.