Architecture for Humanity - SF
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Join Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Jake McGoldrick as they host the first community workshop of the Housing and Land Use Seminar Series sponsored by the San Francisco Green Party and the Center for Education and Social Action at New College of California.
This is the first workshop in a monthly series that will be a great opportunity to educate yourself, share your thoughts, and get involved with local advocacy groups trying to create a better San Francisco. The series will take place on the last Thursday of each month at New College, located at 777 Valencia Street. The first workshop features Matt Gonzalez, President of the Board of Supervisors, and Jake McGoldrick, chair of the Board of Supervisor's Land Use Committee, in a panel discussion entitled, “Does Anybody Have a Housing and Land Use Plan for San Francisco?” Audience questions and involvement will be encouraged.
The seminar series will include a diverse range of topics and speakers--Supervisors, activists, attorneys, developers, nonprofit builders and city planners-- policymakers and advocates from all sides of our housing and development battles. Here’s a chance for you to consider diverse, frequently contradictory opinions, and make up your own mind on important issues facing the city. The seminars should prove informative, lively and entertaining.
What: Green Party Housing and Land Use Seminar Series, co-sponsored with the New College Center for Education and Social Action
Who: Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Jake McGoldrick, and you with your difficult and probing questions.
When: 7pm, Thursday, February 26
Where: New College, 777 Valencia Street, near 19th Street
This came to me from a dedicated soul in Williamsburg, VA, who has been challenigng James City County for too long now to recognize her efforts to build and manage a state-sponsored homeless shelter. In talking with Patti, I want to help her beat James City County and force them to deal with their homeless problem. I will fill you in more as this develops.
"In theState of the Union speech, as many recall, President Bush stated "In the past, we've worked together to bring mentors to children of prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups. America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life." But, in todays society, people like me are forced to become a criminal to help those that God and our President say to help, as a Christian and Citizen.
My name is Patti McKenzie and I live in Williamsburg, VA. My husband and I have lived here shortly over a year. Prior to moving here, we lived in Greenville, SC. For several years in SC, I worked on my own with the homeless to help assist them to better their life. This is a calling that I have had in my heart for many years and God brought us to Williamsburg, for that same reason. Although I understand the love people have for historical areas, I have become frustrated with the local County Officials in this town. Sadly enough, this town was built on one another helping their fellow man to be able to break free from the control of Britain's rule. Yet, today people prefer to ride on the coat-tails of our fore-fathers, as if they did their good deed to another, instead of helping a man up.
When we moved here last year, I again wanted to continue my work with the homeless. I was shocked when I found out there was no homeless shelter in Williamsburg. There is a shelter for battered women and children, but not for men or families. Typically in our area when a man who is homeless needs shelter, they are shipped 40 minutes away to another town to be their problem. If it is a family, the woman and children are placed in the shelter for battered women here and the man is shipped away from his family to the shelter 40 minutes away. Because of my love for the homeless and God, I started assisting them with shelter in my home, making sure they have 3 meals a day, clothing, transportation, friendship, jobs, and devotions. I lost my home we were renting because the neighbors, although they claim they are Christians, had us removed by our landlords. Throughout this time, God gave me a mission to establish a shelter. Each place I found, the County fought me and denied a permit.
We relocated to another rental house where we are on 3 acres of land, have a 2500 sq. ft. home and another 1200 sq. ft. building. This time, our new landlords didn't have a problem with us wanting the homeless to live with us (and several are prisoners who were just released with nowhere to go.) We tried again to get permits and the County told us we could not have the homeless at our home for any services and we could also not have Bible Study with them. Yes, this is against my Religious Freedom.
Although we are considered a faith-based ministry, we get requests to help people who are homeless from United Way, Salvation Army, Social Services, the local police agencies and concerned citizens in the community. Currently, we have 14 people living with us: we have a single mother and her 3 daughters, a singla man and his son, and 8 single men. We provide 3 meals a day for each person prepared by my husband or myself, sit down for meals as a family on a daily basis, and we do all the funding out of our pocket. We do get some small help through churches for food, people in the community donate old clothing and bedding. We assist them in medical needs, transportation, laundry facilities (at no cost), ID's, social skills, home-placement and continued friendship. Financially, we are on our own and God's Grace (monthly for rent, power, supplies and meat to care for our guests it averages $3500 a month.) We do have a donation button through PayPal, yet, to this day, nobody has used it. Since March of last year we have paid out of our pocket almost $22 K for the homeless and a total of $800 donated.
Even this past week, the Commonwealth of Virginia called and requested for me to take a gentleman into our home. He is here on a Green-Card from Albania. He has worked here for 14 years, paid taxes to the IRS and loves our Country. Unfortunately, in Dec., a man had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car and crushed this gentleman in his vehicle. He has extensive medical bills, just came out of a body cast, no memory of the accident, no family locally and with no money left, he was put on the street with much medical needs. The Commonwealth can't offer assistance because he does not fall under any programs. Now with a $300,000 medical bill, long-term treatment and no chance for work in his future, he lives with us. But, of course, their was no funding sent for room and board.
My whole point to this letter is that it has become sad that even when a person loves the homeless and wants to help, people fight against them. People try to blame the government, yet forget it is a Christians' responsibility to help the homeless (thus our motto "Remember, Jesus Was Homeless.) I am not asking for government funding because I know God will provide. I am asking for a shelter. I am asking to do what God has called me to do. Also, even my President has asked for me to do it and people still want to fight against me. Thus, people are wanting me to go against God and the President of United States. Please help me to be able to help others. You can help us by posting and letting others know what we do. It is hard for me to post that we take people into our home because people in our area read our website and fight against us. I do not like risking people being put onto the street. Thanks for your help, support and concern for the homeless."
Sincerely In His Name,
HOMELESSNESS / AFFORDABILITY NEWS
I will be getting more involved with this group if anyone else is interested, RIGHT TO A ROOF! HOUSING WORKGROUP OF THE COALITION ON HOMELESSNESS with James Tracy: “RTAR advocates for the creation and preservation of affordable housing, open to very low-income people in San Francisco. We advocate including cooperative housing in the City's overall housing strategy. We organize around federal housing programs, and budget cuts and their effects on the housing crisis in San Francisco.”
I sat in last Wednesday Night on this meeting SOMA Leadership Council, led by Jim Meko. Daly and Planner Commisioner Lisa Feldstein were guests, Elberling was there, and lots of other lead activists and developers, a mixed group dedicated to SOMA development. But most interesting comment of the evening was Feldstein who told me that the city could be sued by the people if it can't meet the housing growth needs of any bracket as set by the housing element each year. I had asked her why is there no penalty drawn into non-accumulative failures over years to meet the needs, limiting market rate growth until low in come is satisfactorily met with equal development. Spawned a good conversation about the lack of tools and methods for accountability. Granny flats were talked about in Santa Cruz, innovative approaches to building codes. Great night, I will go next month.
Realities for homeless in L.A., POOR Magazine reports on an encampment demolished.
Kenneth Caldwell talks about Affordable Housing Development in the Bay Area: “But with few sites, high land costs, historic preservation issues, reduced federal welfare and housing subsidies, and frequent community resistance, architects are struggling to find new paths to address old problems. The overarching trend toward locally-based solutions includes innovations in financing, mixed-use development, community participation, the use of small infill sites, and sustainable design. However
Home sales are sizzling, January transactions hit 15-year high; prices up 12% in Bay Area.
“One of today's toughest problems is housing that is both livable and affordable. Donald MacDonald Architects have consistently explored the options and found ground-breaking, workable solutions-for projects from three units to hundreds.” The Sleeper.
And this book written by MacDonald sounds worth a read: Democratic Architecture
"MacDonald challenges our traditional notions of how to house the people who live on the streets and can't seem to find a place in conventional homes, apartments and shelters. His book lays out a challenge for everyone involved in housing including architects, builders and city officials. He confronts those who say that ignoring the homeless is the only solution, but he also challenges those who say we can build enough conventional housing for all of the homeless. MacDonald also confronts homeowner and community groups who oppose housing projects.”
- San Francisco Examiner, November 17, 1996
Another good HOMELESS research resource.