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Eight Arrests in SF Protest over Shelter Closure, Looming Cuts

by Michael Steinberg (blackrainpress [at]
Eight people were arrested in San Francisco today for occupying the city’s Human Services Agency in protest of the closing of a homeless shelter and the mistreatment of the people who had used its services, who were callously turned out on the streets. Those people had been promised 90 day vouchers to use the services of other city homeless shelters. Instead they were locked out and left to fend for themselves on the streets of San Francisco.
San Francisco, Monday, June 28-Eight people from Direct Action To Stop the cuts were arrested this afternoon for occupying the San Francisco Human Services Agency in protest over its slash and burn policy towards homeless people.

The agency, located at 170 Otis Street near Mission and Duboce streets, slashed away 59 more available beds for the homeless today by closing the Otis Homeless Shelter at 150 Otis Street, right next to the agency’s headquarters.

And the agency also burned the people who had been staying at the shelter when they came for promised assistance today. The agency had told these people to come to 150 Otis today at 4 p.m. to receive 90 day vouchers that would enable them to find shelter in other city shelters.

However, according to eyewitnesses today, when people came there at that time, they found the doors to 150 Otis locked. “They locked the doors just before 4,” one observer said. When asked if there was any further communication from the people inside, the witness replied, “No.”

Today’s action was motivated by the “utter inhumanity of the mistreatment of these people , which demands immediate attention,” said one of the occupiers, who took over Human Services’ lobby at about 3:30 this afternoon.

Besides this specific injustice, the group pointed out that other such outrages are looming in Gavin Newsom’s proposed cuts. A press release from today’s action states:

“There are 6000-15,000 people without housing in San Francisco and less than 1000 emergency shelter beds. 300 people a year die on the streets of San Francisco due to homelessness. Yet the politicians and bureaucrats responsible for the shelter system say no one will miss the 59 shelter beds when 150 Otis closes.

“This is an outright LIE, as anyone who has waited all night for a shelter bed can tell you! Poverty, homelessness and unemployment are skyrocketing due to the economic crisis, yet Mayor Newsom is cutting the budget for San Francisco’s poorest people at a time when we need these services more than ever!”

After occupying the agency for several hours, police handcuffed the members of Direct Action to Stop the Cuts, led them from the building, cited them for trespassing and released them.

The building at 150 Otis is slated for conversion to permanent supportive housing for houseless and senior veterans.

However, as Direct Action to Stop the Cuts explained, “No resources have been allocated in the mayor’s proposed budget for the coming year to replace the 59 shelter beds that are being taken off line.

“Gavin Newsom wants to reconcile the City’s budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. Emergency shelter beds, mental health services for the poor, supportive services for seniors and the disabled: these and other vital services are all dispensable, in the mayor’s view—no matter how many lives hang in the balance.”

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by mesha Monge-Irizarry (sf2010mm [at]
This is SF History in Motion ! Great Job !

mesha Monge-Irizarry
SF MOOC City Commissioner
As indicated in Michael's article, Gavin Newsom's preferred budget -- in addition to eliminating 59 shelter beds -- would cut funding for health, supportive, legal and housing services vital to the lives San Francisco's poorest residents. These cuts, if effectuated, will be death sentences for some and will put others who are tentatively housed out on the street. Yet, we received news today that Newsom is threatening not to restore funding for vital services unless the supervisors agree to his plan to allow property owners to bypass San Francisco's condo conversion lottery and turn affordable rental housing into condos!-thus creating MORE houselessness!

A revenue-losing golf course in San Mateo, chauffeurs for fire chiefs; inappropriately high salaries for City administrators, managers, and executives ( so-called public servants); and a host of other skewed priorities: these all take precedence, in the mayor's view, over the very lives of the poor; from whom he proposes squeezing negligible savings in order to please his sponsors and spare them any tax increases.

Oh, and let's not forget that SFPD employees will all be receiving a 4.2% raise come July 1. Nearly $350,000,000 of the City's general fund goes to them alone....

by DASC occupier
150 Otis was supposed to be open through June 30th for folks to make shelter bed reservations elsewhere. Not only was it not open for this purpose on the 28th, but it was also not open on the 29th. (I don't know about the 30th; I can only assume more of the same).

This is a triple insult. 59 shelter beds removed from the system. 90-day vouchers promised by HSA managers not delivered. AND, in an act that seems malicious, 150 Otis not available to folks seeking to reserve a bed elsewhere.
This Article is NOT ENTIRELY TRUE! I was there at 150 Otis that afternoon, and I spoke out against the cuts. but, this whole endeavor was a worthless waste of time and effort, because of the way it was organized and handled. The Building at 150 Otis has been sold by the city, and it needs to be retrofitted before it can be transformed into a veterans shelter.

Let me correct some INACCURACIES here. as I was a resident of 150 Otis, and I know FIRSTHAND about what had happened.

"the mistreatment of the people who had used its services, who were callously turned out on the streets. Those people had been promised 90 day vouchers to use the services of other city homeless shelters. Instead they were locked out and left to fend for themselves on the streets of San Francisco. "

This statement is callously FALSE. Just before the people that decided to "occupy the HSA building went in there, i went up the corner to the end of the AT&T Building where the line formed to sign up for a shelter bed. I spoke with Briana Moore, who is in charge of the Changes reservation system, and she took my name and last 4 of my social, and then, i went to MSC SOUTH, and by the time I got there, I had a one night bed at MSC SOUTH. In the Morning, I obtained a 7 night bed at NEXT DOOR SHELTER where I am at now.


the residents of 150 Otis that were displaced by the closing of the shelter NOT TO BUDGET CUTS AS REPORTED HERE BUT TO THE SELLING OF THE BUILDING BY THE CITY TO THE VA SO IT CAN BE USED FOR HOUSING HOMELESS VETERANS; we were told by Briana Moore that when we obtain a 7 day reservation, that is when it will turn into a 90 day bed, when you get an extension of that 7 day bed.

as of today, July 1, 2010, the Changes Shelter Reservation System will Change thusly:

when you go to a reservation station, GLIDE, MSC CAPP ST, NEXT DOOR, AND MOTHER BROWNS in bayview, the FIRST shelter reservation you get will be for 90 days. then the first extension will be for 14 days, then the third and final extension will be for 7 days, for a total shelter stay of 111 days. NO ONE WILL BE PUT ON THE STREET UNLESS THEY CHOOSE TO BE ON THE STREET> YOU CAN NOW GO TO MSC SOUTH AT 4:30 PM and sign up for a shelter bed FOR MSC.

and THAT my friends, is how the system works. work the system, and you will get a shelter bed if you so desire. I HAVE NEVER IN THE 20 or so YEARS that i have utilized the shelter system have been turned away for a shelter bed, EVER.
by DASC occupier

Although 150 Otis is going to be renovation and reopened as housing for vets, the fact remains that the mayor's budget for the coming year INCLUDES NO FUNDING TO MOVE OR REPLACE the 59 beds being taken off line.

I am glad that you know how to "work the system." But many others with FIRSTHAND experience can attest, and have attested to, the difficulty of negotiating the CHANGES reservation system.

You yourself acknowledged on Monday that one of the issues you've encountered is that administrators and staff on the ground are frequently NOT in communication or on the same page.

On Monday, we were told by people who'd been waiting in line that the window was shut and people were being turned away.

I don't know what time the window was "supposed" to be shut; but I do know that I spent quite a bit of time on line trying to find out the specific hours that people could make reservations at 150 Otis, and only succeeded in coming up with contradictory and unclear information.
by Tom Joad
Thanks again to everyone who came to speak out against the cuts and shelter closing! Thanks to indymedia for being one of the few media outlets (we contacted every media corporation in the bay) to pick up the voices of traditionally silenced and historically oppressed people.

Unfortunately hsa, continues to pay it's administrators the entire combined amount it spends on all services or all welfare compensation, while shelter residents get an itchy blanket and a plastic mat. there are still 6000- 15,000 people without housing in sf, while there are only 900 [make that 850] shelter beds, and an estimated 30,000 empty units of housing sue to capitalist priorities of profit over people.
Many thanks to the sf coalition on homelessness and congratulations on their successful drive to turn the "one night stand" and "7 day shuffle" beds into 90 day beds.

The houseless of sf will open new housing (not "shelter") for sf's houseless people and anyone who wants to join us on July 19th! This is only the beginning. For every bed they cut we will takenover empty housing!

An injury to one is an injury to all! Ya basta!

Art, your speech about the difficulties of accessing shelter in sf was very passionate and inspiring and was my favorite of the day.
For more budget news, check out 7-2-10 BeyondChron.
by Fr3lon_Brun
Hey, man, so I was living there for months and then left right on June 4th, headed to Mpls for my "summer vacation" (heehee). I was in bed 21, which had been mixed up with bed 19 somehow. All those cats protesting were actually LIVING at Otis then, huh? I miss everybody there, damn. And I'm probably heading back to f*****g sit in the chairs all night, right? Haha...Anybody know what they'll cut next?
by Fr3lon_Brun
Art, I don't know who you are, man, but you might be familiar - I was just @ Otis up until June, buds w/ Tod (bald-headed Marine) and Kev (NY), & Sean (brotha from NY) - oh, and that damned Frenchy LOL. Where'd everybody mostly go then, MSC? Thought beds would be easier to come by in summer now?

Anyway, I couldn't agree with you more, Art, that system is like clockwork - yeah, sometimes those staff who do the reservations at MSC are dips***s and mix things up a bit, but I also was NEVER without a bed once I learned the ropes. Sometimes I'd just stay out late and show up at like 10, sign up, sit down, come 2 o'clock suddenly I'm called outta my unfit sleep and I'm going upstairs for some sleep, shit, shave shower, and breakfast. Simple. Lots of times, the 1st of the month comes and if it's nice out, beds are actually left EMPTY!

As for anybody bitchin about not "playing the system", baby, hey - ya gotta learn and learn fast cuz ain't nobody else gonna do it FOR you. Playing the system doesn't necessarily imply something negative, but simply means unless you're slow and lacking in motivation or imagination (or pain threshold cuz gawd that chair sleeping can get you hurting in a few days if you don't f*****g wise up QUICK-LIKE!), you know how to SURVIVE, how to ADAPT.

So right on, Art, whoever you are - we at Otis had it f*****g GOOD - especially when I came back to the "unit" from GLIDE with a backpack of leftovers, eh? LOL. Well, Peace, Fellow Dwellers in the City of Human Pigeons, au revoir, bonne nuit, bonne soir, fare the well, godspeed and ALL that good s**t.
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