Thursday, January 31, 2013

In the News: SF Examiner

Increase in homelessness upsets Duboce merchants

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
Homeless people might be heading to the Duboce Triangle area after being pushed out of nearby gathering spaces in the Castro, according to one outreach specialist. 
Merchants in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood are concerned about what they say is an increase of homeless people in the area — enough to call for a meeting with police and elected officials.

Business owners say they worry that violence and theft are increasing in the area, too, due to the presence of people on the streets who are mentally ill or have substance-abuse problems.

“We’ve been scratching our heads trying to figure it out,” said Dennis Richards, president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association. “There is additional activity at 14th, Market and Belcher. The question is what’s going on and why now? I wish I had the answers, then maybe we’d be able to curb the problems.”
Richards said the neighborhood association has held meetings with police and city leaders, but if a homeless person denies services, there’s not much that can be done. Since some business owners are not pleased with the progress, they are hosting a community meeting today and have invited police and elected officials, according to the Community Leadership Alliance, which will help host the meeting.

Diego Azevedo, owner of Cybelle’s Pizza on 14th Street at Church Street, said he was in court Jan. 23 dealing with a person who had stolen a prepared salad from the store.

“He was under the influence of something,” he said. “The same guy was doing it to other businesses too.”
Azevedo said he’s had his business in the area since 2007, but the increase in homeless people was noticeable after returning from a few months of vacation in November. 

“They’ve always been around, but there has definitely been more,” he said.  The owner of Golden Produce on Church Street said the population comes and goes.

One possible cause for the increase is the removal of benches in the nearby Castro district, said Megan Rohrer, executive director of Welcome Ministry, a faith-based homeless outreach organization. The ministry is partnering with St. Francis Lutheran Church, located on Church Street, to do outreach and offer services.
Rohrer said gathering places such as staircases in the Duboce neighborhood are a draw for the crowds.

“As The City concentrates on removing them from one area, it’s normal to see them migrate to another,” she said.

Richards said the empty storefronts, such as the one at the former sight of Home restaurant where Church, Market and 14th streets intersect, could be a contributing factor.
“Without the extra eyes on the street, they’re hanging out and congregating,” he said.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your homeless advocacy. I have been chronically homeless since 2004 when I fell ill and lost my lease with the University Students Cooperative Association. There are stages to homelessness and yes I have been aggro and combative. Yet, after 9years w/o a lease to a home I have learned how to talk to the police to calm any discrimination thwarted my way. I have also been more open and recpetive to social services Homelessness is not a crime and we are not all junkies. I graduated from CAL in 2008 while dealing with homelessness in Berkeley, Richmond, and Vallejo. I now stay at a transitional home in S.F. doing any amount of work I can at any wage just to pay for expensive groceries The money I get from disability insurance is enough to pay program fees and bills, not nearly enough for the subsistence mode I require. Thank you for WELCOME Ministry and your collab. w/St. Vincent de Paul Committee at St. Francis. Us homeless folk simply need to be treated with openmindeness and sincerity.