Having lived for 2 years in an SRO after arriving to San Francisco perhaps people don't quite understand what it is like. For $450 a month in the late 90's dot com boom era I got a room on California Street with a shower. It was awesome. I had no cooking facilities so I got a hot plate from a friend and ate a lot of ramen noodles and fresh produce from Project Open Hands pantry. See I was also going to Beauty School at Miss Marty's school of Beauty. I wasn't working, my GA was all the money I had and that was $400 a month. Catholic Cheraties had to take my case on and pay my rent and subsidize my income, so I was left with $200 a month to live on. In San Francisco. During the Dot Com Boom. It was only by the help I received from community organizations at that time that kept me alive and healthy and able to make something out of myself. They are the reasons I could succeed in life.
What I learned while living in this SRO is that there are many people who need help in the most desperate ways. People who can't bathe themselves and think for themselves but there is no place to go for them. One time in line at general I saw a man covered in his own feces who had very obvious mental disorders and the staff person told me terminal cancer. This is what is out there and the fact that by closing St Luke's the city gets rid of beds for these people. Plus there are no care facilities with bed to help the mentally ilL who are unable to care for them selves! Downsizing St Luke's removes over 70 acute bed care options as well as eliminating 81 psychiatric beds. Just what the Mission and SF General need in that area. Imagine what we get to see our next visit to General or on a street near you. This is not how housing and care should be dealt with in our city. Land development needs to consider the people who are already living in a community and what their needs are first.
While I was at City hall the other day I was listening to the Native Americans talk about how this was their land and they are not recognized. I thought it just happens over and over again. The people with enough money to silence and discriminate so often reap the rewards. This is still happening at such a quick rate in San Francisco frightens me. I am afraid because so many people seem asleep at the wheel. Grass roots organizing was changing and is changing things but without effort by the communities themselves our cares go without voice. There have been many mayors in this city in a row that run things as they wished and favored business and gentrification. It has changed our beautiful liberal city into a Manhatten Jr. I don't want our city to be owned by Disney with pretty fake atmosphere and botiques only. I want the trannies and the freaks to stay in this city if they want and to be able to find housing. This city should work to become the producer of more success stories like myself. Only through dignity and offering care where it is really needed can we keep this city vibrant for all people.
It's not just land use either. The Polk Street Merchant organizations with Police Chief Gascone and Kamala Harris have decided the Polk is unsafe. They state that the THOUSANDS of trannie hookers, male hookers and a "new influx of hookers from out of town" are making it unsafe to live on Polk. Poor little Johnny is getting stabbed by needles on his way to school and pimps are killing each other every day. First off these are lies. Lies to cover the mass gentrification ideas that the city has for the polk. The Polk is 300 times more white washed and suburban that when I first arrived in San Francisco. You know what is gone from the Polk? Gays. The gay businesses have been snuffed out on purpose because of the beliefe that we are degenerates and ruin the neighborhood. Gay businesses have been blackballed from re opening. In fact one Polk Merchants Association leader thanked the ABC and Entertainment Commission for coming to the aid of a condo owner who lived next to a noist bar and looks forward to working with them again in future such cases.
Gascone and the Merchants association believe shame is the best way to do this. First keep you camera ready because they are asking YOU to take pictures of suspicious characters and turn those pictures into the police. Thats right BIG Brother is here to clean up the Polk. Also pictures of men who use prostitutes will be plastered about the city to shame them into not partaking in the night time trade.
As a gay man I have been shamed, photographed and put in a hospital for the mental disorder called being gay. None of these have worked. I am a very rebellious and angry citizen because of it. I am living proof that shame does not work. Instead of shame shouldn't we give these people, because they are people after all lets not forget; a place to live that they can afford so that like myself they can become another success story for our city. Stop the shame and stop the destruction of affordable housing! There are 2 ways to make the city livable for everyone. To the lady on the Polk Merchants association who said its a women's issue because god knows what these men bring home after tricking; I say this; where is your heart and compassion. Until we offer dignity to the "undesirable" you desirables will not be able to find it for yourself. Personally Kamala, Gascone and the Polk Merchants I don't know how you can sleep at night. That bed of shame money must be pretty darn soft.