Finally a Homelessness Plan With Promise
After attending two of Andrew Hening’s community conversations about the homeless issue, there is an option that is worth discussing. With so much negative, polarizing rhetoric about the issues in San Rafael and magical solutions (send them to Sonoma!), it is a relief to have a realistic solution on the table.
This Sounds like a Win-Win
The City Council has committed to work with the County and other stakeholders (including Ritter and St. Vincent’s) to find a new location for Ritter Center. The details are not all worked out, but Andrew encouraged the group to let the City and County know we support this approach. Contact links are at the bottom of this post.
Move Ritter and St. Vincent’s to North San Rafael
There is a 20,000 square foot building in North San Rafael, off Smith Ranch Road, away from residential areas, that could be repurposed as a multi-service location. The hope is to get Ritter Center to move there and encourage St. Vincent’s to come along. Remember that St. Vincent’s owns their downtown building and is under no obligation to abide by the City/County wishes. But in the interest of providing better services, St. Vincent’s is at the table talking. Great news.
Moving Ritter Helps But it Isn’t a Panacea
There have been relentless attacks on Ritter Center, as if it is the ONE cause of the problems downtown. It is not. Ritter is one piece of a complicated puzzle and an easy scapegoat. Most people don’t even know all the services they provide or that they do great work. If you only move Ritter, and someone has to choose between staying downtown where there is free food (St. Vincent’s) or heading north for medical care and showers (Ritter)…they’ll stay near the food. Nothing is simple when it comes to addressing homelessness and poverty in our community.
To make a real impact on downtown San Rafael, we need to move and consolidate all these services. However, there are still other pieces to the puzzle. One of our biggest challenges is the small portion of the population that is severely mentally ill or suffers from severe addiction or both. Imagine a schizophrenic on meth. Programs such as the new H.O.T. team (look for an upcoming post), Chronic Inebriates program, Downtown Streets Team and our mental health outreach officer are all working to get this population into treatment. The elephant in the room continues to be affordable housing. Where do we house people who need services in this expensive housing market?
Get Behind this Good Idea
Our City Council and our Board of Supervisors need to hear from us. The County in particular has been too inactive for too long on this issue. Please email them with your support for a North San Rafael location for homeless services. And we want it done soon so we aren’t’ still talking about moving Ritter in another three years.
Contact the Board of Supervisors and San Rafael City Council
Email the San Rafael City Council
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