By Allen Armstrong
It doesn’t take long for one to figure out if the homeless shelters are truly here to help or harm homeless people. While it’s not important to most people in San Francisco, it’s certainly important to those who actually want to be off the streets for the most part and be a better, more productive member of society that also wants to be a positive influence on people. There is no reason to hold grudges against anyone really, however not everyone knows the plight that we homeless people face on a daily basis.
I have stayed at most of the homeless shelters in San Francisco and its unanimous: MSC South is the worst homeless shelter in the area, due to the staff. I personally have been treated with contempt and anger by prejudiced people. It’s a shame that nobody knows about this , except for homeless folks. This also happened at Dolores homeless shelter on (24th Street), as well as Dolores on South Van Ness Avenue although there were also good and decent people there. The people at Providence and Next Door were very decent as well. I also have a friend who has stayed at Sanctuary, and he said that the people were very nice too. All in all, one would have to come to the conclusion that the people who work at these homeless shelters are ignorant at the very least.
Cleanliness is also a tough thing to be considered. After all, how clean is the street? However, bathrooms at places that receive money from the City and state ought to be at least sorta clean, right? Well, there are also few homeless shelters with showers. MSC South has showers at all times for the public and for the shelter, but again you have to be aware of the way they treat us homeless. On Dolores at South Van Ness, you can only shower at what time you sign up for at night and it might not be hot; most likely, it would be cold in my experience. No showers are at Providence. Sanctuary and Next Door have showers, but all of the bathrooms were dirty.
How you even get into a homeless shelter is also a messed-up thing. For instance, at Glide, they basically make you run across the street. If you are unable to, then they’ll just skip over or cut in front of you. I was told to wait across the street on Taylor Street, then cross with everyone, but what ended up happening was that everyone ran and even though I waited about an hour and was first or second in line, many people butted in front of me. I was denied a bed that evening and told they don’t start taking reservations until 3 p.m. exactly and they were already filled up again and I was reminded why people don’t want to stay at homeless shelters, because it is a bunch of prejudice and even a hint of racism. Really sad that it’s one of three resources that I’m aware of. The drop-in center on 165 Capp St. and GA are the other two. And neither of those have I tried, although 311 is the SF helpline that will put you on the list for a 90-day bed. These are the only ways to get into homeless shelters in San Francisco.
When it boils down to right or wrong, fair or unfair, one easily comes to the conclusion that being homeless in San Francisco isn’t easy and becoming un-homeless is difficult. Shelters in San Francisco are not set up or equipped with the necessary employs to help people achieve success and to become un-homeless or find a home. No, they are mostly a place to sleep at night and “see ya later” during the day, which helps no one except the people who don’t need help. Without decent workers who are qualified to give advice, mentor and counsel. And gentrification on the horizon, San Francisco is looking, at the very least, double the homeless. More than likely, one-third will be treated as if in the majority will be treated like they are getting the help they need. I am only speaking of my experience with homelessness in San Francisco, and it hasn’t been very good, mostly awful and unfair really. I totally feel bad for anyone who finds themselves in the situation such as myself, homeless, for the cards are stacked against me, and the deck isn’t all there; it’s missing a card or two. So maybe one day there will be a program that isn’t just a smoke screen, and will actually help homelessness, not make more homeless scapegoats. I have hope, though. I want to help and make a difference. I am able to succeed because I had found what I had lost — and that’s integrity