Behind the number: You’ve probably seen them by now: the 18 huge red and yellow billboards dotting the city with mayoral candidate Angela Alioto’s face and the words “Accomplished. Housed 11,362 Homeless.”
What did she do? Let them all move into her guest room?
The number may seem unbelievable, but the billboards do have some basis in fact. The figure comes from a report evaluating the city’s “Ten Year Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness,” an initiative begun by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 and crafted by a council headed by Alioto.
By 2014, the city had moved 11,362 homeless single adults into permanent supportive housing. Another 8,806 were given bus tickets home to receptive family members or friends through the city’s Homeward Bound program.
(Hey, any real politician would have taken credit for those, too. Come on, Angela!)
Obviously, all that effort was great, but it made little dent in the city’s stubborn, increasingly in-your-face homeless population. Alioto says that’s exactly why she wants voters to send her to Room 200 in June.
She thinks the city’s much-hyped Navigation Centers — more relaxed, service-rich homeless shelters — are OK, but the city needs to focus far more on permanent housing solutions so people don’t wind up back on the streets.
“Or you might as well just throw the money away,” Alioto said, adding she would focus her first 100 days as mayor on cleaning the streets and moving those in tents inside.
“It would be me actually doing the hard work, and it is hard work,” she said.
Now that would make a good billboard.