Last night, with today's torrential downpours on the horizon, 1,009 people languished on a waitlist for 90-day shelter beds, a statistic that comes to us via a press release from the Coalition on Homelessness.
What does it take to temporarily get off that list and into shelter on, say, a rainy night such as this? “If someone misses curfew, or if one of the shelter beds is set aside for a special population such as Care not Cash, the bed is offered for one night only, usually released late at night,” Jennifer Friedenbach, the Executive Director of the Coalition, said. "Those on the wait list may try their luck for a one night bed, or find a friend or family member to let them stay, or find a place on the cold streets or wet parks.”
It's a moment when the modicum of shelter provided by tents on streets seems most valuable, but of course, Prop Q passed in November to formally ban such tent encampments in San Francisco. Friedenbach, for her part, was staunchly opposed to the measure: “Prop Q and R do not create additional housing or bed," she said while campaigning against the twin props. "They simply continue the status quo, by shuffling people from block to block after the meager offer of one night in shelter.”
At that time, in mid-October, there were roughly 800 people on the shelter waitlist.