Homelessness

Homelessness is a solvable problem. Numerous models support this, including the Pathways Housing First  (https://www.pathwayshousingfirst.org/), Community Solutions (https://community.solutions/built-for-zero/) and research done by the Benioff Research Institute (https://cvp.ucsf.edu/programs/benioff-homelessness-and-housing-initiative) among others.  Our city and county have coordinated and helped fund the valiant efforts by a wide array of service providers and while many more people are off the street and engaged in services than there would be without their efforts, we continue to address the symptom while failing to address the underlying causes of the homelessness crisis.  These causes, in broad strokes are:

  • High housing costs and inadequate availability of affordable housing to meet the needs of our community

  • Chronic underfunding and inadequate infrastructure to help our community members suffering from mental health and addiction problems

Inadequate enforcement tools to assure the safety and security of our citizens, housed and unhoused, and our businesses

Safety and Security

Mental Health & Addiction

Affordable Housing and Urban Density

  • Those who choose a life of service deserve our profound gratitude. This includes firefighters, emergency medical personnel and police officers among so many others. 

  • AND, it is incumbent upon those tasked with the job of enforcing our rules to earn and maintain the trust of those they serve. We must acknowledge that there is, quite rationally, not trust in our law enforcement to protect and serve all our citizenry and we must therefore prioritize building trust when we consider the funding, organization and reform of our police force. 

  • The criminal-legal system as it currently exists is a blunt, egregiously inequitable and extremely ineffective tool with which to enforce our laws.  We need to provide our law enforcement with an array of tools, primarily restorative, all equitable, that can serve as effective means with to change behavior, not merely punish, those who have broken rules in order to restore safety and security to all of our citizens. 

  • We all need safety and security. We need to be much smarter and more equitable about how we build systems designed to achieve this goal.

  • We currently have no cohesive system to address the mental health and addiction crisis that currently afflicts individuals, families and neighborhoods.

  • We pour public and private monies into an array of disconnected services that treat symptoms and manage crises, but that do little to solve the underlying problems individuals and families are facing.    

  • If we have any responsibility to our fellow citizens, at a minimum, I believe that helping children and families suffering from illness, whether physical or mental,* who are unable to help themselves should be a priority. 

  • For too long we have not embraced our collective responsibility to help our most vulnerable; contracting with private, in many cases, profit driven entities and relying on business models which often are not well suited to serving people at their most vulnerable life stages.

  • We not only need to work with and support the great organizations doing this work; but we need to take responsibility for the interconnected system making it resilient, easy to navigate and effective at helping those amongst us least able to help themselves.  

* from years in primary care, I am continually frustrated by the artificial line drawn between physical and mental illness. These two aspects of health are inextricably connected and our systems should treat them as such. 

  • I hope we can all agree that people who are essential to our lives, like servers and shopkeepers, medical and dental assistants, bus drivers, teachers, home care aides, and so many others shouldn’t have to choose between long commutes and spending over 50% of their income in housing cost. 

  • We must zone for and incentivize the building of affordable housing in every neighborhood where essential workers work. 

  • AND, we must assure that necessary infrastructure, like public transportation, schools and libraries keeps up, and should in fact precede, the increase in density.

  • We can and should incentivize communal housing, fully fund rent subsidies to qualifying renters and assure that an adequate stock of housing and infrastructure is available for people living and working in our cities. 

  • We all need time and energy to invest in relationships with our families, friends and neighbors.  This means shorter commutes and wages which allow people to live near their work. In our wealthy cities with high rents, this means rent subsidies as so many other countries around the world have concluded. 

Make Our Tax Structure More Fair

  • If we want to live in a society where we all feel safe and secure, where we have enough time to both work and nurture relationships with family, friends and neighbors; where we can send our kids to neighborhood schools, own and shop at neighborhood businesses that are reliably staffed and supplied, we will need to fully fund the services and systems we all rely on to make that happen. 

  • We all need to chip in what we can and stop relying on our shamefully unfair tax code which asks those making the least to contribute the most.  We need to balance this out so that those of us who are most successful contribute our fair share. 

  • It is disgraceful that our well educated, compassionate citizenry fails to support fair taxation. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not; at this moment, we have all made the choice to stay.  We should all pay our fair share for the society we all want to live in.

Invest In Education

  • We see across our country right now, in so many ways, how under-investment in education has tangible, detrimental effects on society. 

  • It creates and reinforces inequities which harm all of us. 

  • It costs more in the long run as our country becomes more and more disconnected and polarized while staffing shortages in every sector result not from lack of people, but from a lack of a trained and qualified workforce. 

  • In order to equip our businesses, health and social service sectors with essential staff, investing in education is also investing in a qualified workforce. 

  • Investing in education, in teachers, school counselors and nurses, school buildings, programs and students, at every level, is an essential investment in the healthy future of our state and our country. 

  • Our planet, soil, water and air are sick and becoming sicker.

  • We need not only to arrest, as quickly as possible and by whatever means necessary, those practices which harm our soil, our air and our oceans. 

  • The effects of climate change, killing our citizens and destroying homes, businesses, farms and forests with heat, fire and floods, and harming our soils and ecosystems with poisons and overintensive use, are driving us to an ever more expensive clean-up and further harms to our and our children’s health. 

  • Every policy passed must be viewed through the lens of how it impacts our climate. Every dollar spent must be spent making our society and our environment healthier, not sicker. 

Protect And Restore Our Planet