For SF homeless, ‘tough love’ concept just doesn’t add up

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A week before Christmas — a time one usually associates with good will toward men, a time of giving — Mayor Ed Lee called for “tough love” on the most destitute San Franciscans. He pitched a fit that the traffic courts dropped warrants for arrest of homeless people for such heinous crimes as sleeping and sitting. Yes, we are talking about traffic court — not exactly a hive of criminal cases.

Before last year, the courts were issuing both arrest warrants and civil assessments for unpaid fines and failures to appear, a practice that can be legally challenged. They landed on civil assessments, sending those unpaid balances to a private collections agency. This year, they dropped a chunk of the backlog because: it costs more to collect on these unpaid fines; they most likely can never be paid back anyway; and the fines burden already impoverished people with back-breaking debt that acts as a barrier to housing admittance. However, people who get tickets today will have civil assessments for unpaid tickets issued…

The Navigation Centers kick people out after 30 days, so they have some turnover space for campers who generate complaints, but that is only temporary relief and not nearly enough at that. The number of units created for homeless people under Mayor Lee took a severe nose dive, and there is very little chance of getting off the streets that way. Under former Mayor Gavin Newsom, both mental health and substance abuse treatment programs were slaughtered wholesale, so exactly what services does that leave?

So the tough part is covered. But what about the love?… (more)

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