Monday, October 28, 2013

Homeless and Panhandling in San Francisco and Eureka. Bits and pieces.

The SF Chronicle does a great story on panhandling in San Francisco.

146 people quizzed about their lives as part of a concerted effort to better understand the panhandlers of Union Square, how they came to be on their designated street corners, why they panhandle, what they do with the money, and what it would take to get them off the streets. The Union Square Business Improvement District conducted the survey in the 27-square-block shopping area. Fifty-eight percent of the panhandlers said they've been begging for at least five years despite the wealth of social services available in San Francisco and the city's Homeless Outreach Teams, which patrol the streets daily offering help. Sitting on the sidewalk is no longer allowed under city law while Panhandling in SF. Contradicting the common refrain from city officials who say the majority of panhandlers are housed, 82 percent of those surveyed in Union Square said they're homeless. They said their biggest obstacles to getting a place to live are that they have no job and no income and can't afford rent. Permanent housing, food and job training would help them to stop panhandling, they said. Just 3 percent said they don't want housing - also contradicting conventional wisdom that says many people flat-out refuse offers of housing. "Something's not working someplace along the line," said Tim Falvey, a member of the business improvement district's board. "Either they're not getting connected with services or the services aren't working for them. People do need shelter, and they're not getting it. ... It's an eye-opener for us. "The survey found that panhandling in Union Square is a lifestyle, not a once-in-a-while kind of thing. Fifty-three percent of panhandlers said they beg seven days a week. Sixty percent said they earn $25 or less each day, while 27 percent said they earn up to $50.  Asked to list everything they spend their money on, 94 percent said food. The second most common answer was drugs or alcohol, cited by 44 percent. A quarter of panhandlers said they're alcoholics, and 32 percent said they have a drug problem. Seventy percent of those who fell into either category said they've participated in treatment programs.
Who receives

83% are men
39% have a high school diploma
21% attended some college
69% are single

26% served in the military
70% are 40 to 59 years old

58% have been panhandling for at least five years

53% panhandle seven days a week

60% make $25 a day or less panhandling

94% use the money for food
44% use it for drugs or alcohol

62% are disabled

25% are alcoholics
32% are addicted to drugs

82% are homeless

95% live in San Francisco
Who's giving

80% are Bay Area residents
70% are younger than 45 years old

48% have a household income under $50,000 a year
60% give because they or a family member may be in need someday

61% are concerned about how panhandlers use their money
In Eureka there is a different dynamic of population but I could see some of the same principles applying. Panhandling and Homeless seem to go hand in hand. The burden on services takes a toll when homeless are transient and move ready. There were 71 calls to the fire department for “camps” and 20 tons of debris eradicated just last year.
Some Info on Eureka Homeless and Humboldt County poor from various sources:
60% of homeless in Humboldt County live in Eureka
70% of homeless make less than $1,000 a month
66% of Humboldt Homeless became that way locally
$303 a month is Humboldt’s maximum General Relief. Only 165 people were collecting as of Sept. 2013. Around decade ago there were well over 600 collecting
There are only 1,631 families currently on welfare, down over 400 from about a decade ago
The Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) seems to have helped our area a little. Betty Chinn has reportedly sent around 50 homeless a year back to their home towns.   
Here is the big question concerning homeless and panhandling, “Is it worse than it ever has been?” I would say by simple observation yes, but we need to measure that subject better. “What is the cure?” If I had the answer I could help the thousands of other communities who are dealing with the same issue.
Any of you have any answers?  


Anonymous said...

Only help those who are local, who either have family currently residing in Hum Co, or can prove they did at one time.
We should take care of our own, but we don't have the resources to care for everyone who can manage to travel here.
Word will spread pretty quickly.
Tough love baby.

Anonymous said...

70% of the homeless make less than $1000 a month. Are you sure that shouldn't say, 70% of working people make less than $1000 a month? In Eureka.

Anonymous said...

The city of San Francisco are suing the state of Nevada for busing homeless people to the city because of better services

Anonymous said...

The city of San Francisco is suing the state of Nevada for busing homeless people to the city

Anonymous said...

It's easy!

Start electing people that demand reversing 30 years of public divestment, privatization, job outsourcing to foreign kids, offshore tax havens, saturating communities in poverty wage jobs, and predator industries.

Return to the tax rates the U.S. had for 25 years following WWII.

America's surging homeless population is the collateral damage of unparalleled greed.

Not one local story on homelessness has ever interviewed Eureka's "Job Market" to inquire about their retraining programs for adults.

Julie Timmons said...

Great post, Richard. The fact that 2/3 became homeless LOCALLY shows that these ARE our own. They are not traveling here for our supposedly generous handouts. I would love to know what the success rate is of our heavily advertised Job Market or whatever they're calling it these days.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in SF and for them to say that they spend almost all their money on food is just not true. They almost all spend their money on drugs and alcohol. Ask about the crack epidemis everywhere any collection of panhandlers are present, be it in the Tenderloin, on Market Street, or even in the Castro. Most of them are mentally ill to some degree so to try and paint them as a group of people that wants jobs and are really family men is laughable.

samoasoftball said...

1:44pm-Not all of their money, just part. 94% use some of the money for food. Many use for drugs and booze.

Anonymous said...

Where do you come up with the 1600 families on welfare in HumCo ?

samoasoftball said...

Humboldt Social Services

Charlie Bean said...

"Most of them are mentally ill to some degree so to try and paint them as a group of people that wants jobs and are really family men is laughable.

1:44 PM"

Part of the problem with the mentally ill is the lack of treatment and acceptance of individuals who think and function differently. No treatment, no meds and this often leads to self-medication using anything available. A large majority of these individuals that are labeled as homeless with mental concerns mostly need to be kept busy. In programs I have seen in larger communities having the homeless work on cleaning the streets, walking malls and such give activity to the individual, thus using their minds for others things besides idleness.

I think we can do so much more to eliminate the issues surrounding homelessness, but there is so much negative, no one is willing to look at the positive of actually doing something differently.