Edward II Inn (Image Source: MapJack.com)
The Proposal: A Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) backed initiative to convert the Edward II Inn on Scott and Lombard into 24 units of supportive housing for young adults between 18 and 24 transitioning from foster care.
The (definitive) Response: “We have no problem with the services and what they’re doing for these young people,” said Lori Brooke, president of the Cow Hollow Association. “It’s really the place they chose that’s the problem.”
The Reason: “Some say the new residents could bring more crime and that including affordable housing into the pricey neighborhood could affect property values.”
The project is awaiting the Mayor’s approval for a loan to make the proposal a reality.
Marina housing irks community [Examiner]

35 thoughts on “Support For Supportive Housing…Just Not Here”
  1. My guess it’s really no worse that having, say, Academy of Art student “housing” in your hood. I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails about this. The real issue also seems to be that the residents have minimal supervision and are allowed a significant number of overnight guests. That said, I can’t really get worked up about it. Lombard street has a lot of other problems and I find it hard to believe that this would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Like, what’s up with all the hookers? I guess the motels have lowered their rates, but many of the johns are still too cheap to spring for them making the quiet streets of Cow Hollow an ideal place to, um, work…

  2. How would this bring more crime ? There’s nothing criminal about being a foster child. I could see an issue if this were being used to place kids graduating out of juvi hall, but foster care doesn’t beget criminals.

  3. “It’s almost the equivalent of trying to put a rehab in the middle of crackville,” said Marc Shannon, secretary for the Marina Merchants Association.
    Good point. Instead, let’s put it in the Tenderloin…

  4. Yea this is BS, that are of Lombard is not even nice, and why should foster kids be associated with crime, typical marina/cow hallow attitude

  5. She is a classic NIMBY “It’s really the place they chose that is the problem”. With that being said, she has a point. I have never been for the idea of compromising neighborhoods for the sake of ‘supportive housing’. As I have pointed out in other posts, the crime rate for those in supportive housing, including QoL crimes, are higher than their surrounding neighbors. If I were a resident there, I would ask what the % are with criminal backgrounds. Also, it makes no sense to through up this type of housing in one of the most expensive cities in the country. The $4million could go MUCH further if it was in the East Bay, or down the penisula – helping out more people.
    MoD: “I could see an issue if this were being used to place kids graduating out of juvi hall” – Too funny, so what are the different levels of supportive housing? Obviously you support this, but oppose those coming out of juvi, I don’t get it. Either you support supportive housing or you don’t.
    I’m still waiting for the day when somone wants to through some supportive housing in Noe! If you want to see hypocrisy, just wait until that day…
    Though I would point out to her that its nowhere near as bad as the homeless supportive housing on Folsom/1st.

  6. Transitional housing for young adults who have been abandoned by society. Maybe marc shannon’s MMA group can help these folks get entry level jobs. He is plugged in. best way to influence young adults is to influence their income.

  7. I also want to point out the people most concerned about this project are older, longtime residents of the neighborhood, many are less concerned about their property values than for their safety, even if those fears are unwarranted. I don’t feel this is really the right direction to express these fears and frustrations. I saw little outrage from the CHA over the use of the Bridge Motel as housing for ex-cons (many of them violent), a story also mentioned on Socketsite months ago without so much as a raised eyebrow.
    I’d rather see the city apply eminent domain over that plagued place and donate the property to LSY. Then, everybody happy! Ok, maybe not…

  8. Ahh, the ultimate San Francisco dilemma. You want to be a liberal and support all these great ideals you discovered as a late teenager, early 20-something — you just don’t want it in your neighborhood. Yes, you support all of these social services, welfare, hand outs, hand ups, free needle exchange, soup kitchens, and SRO’s. You just don’t want it down the block from you. This gives you the feeling of classic San Franciscan liberal moral superiority. “Yes I support all of these things. They’re great. Anyone who doesn’t agree with me is just ignorant.” The instant someone mentions opening up a SRO, halfway-house, or foster home on your block, you burn up the phone lines and call in political favors. You then mention (like SFRE here) that you’re not against these things, but you don’t want to sacrifice the character of your neighborhood for it. Thus ultimately missing the entire lesson of the story — all of these handouts are a bad idea. If you don’t want them in your backyard, they’re not good in anyone’s backyard.
    Damn limousine liberals and hot-tub hippies.

  9. I’m not sure that Marina blonds and Cow Hollow masters of the Universe are the best role models for troubled teens.

  10. but you don’t want to sacrifice the character of your neighborhood for it. Thus ultimately missing the entire lesson of the story — all of these handouts are a bad idea.
    I think this quote is telling, and says more about your philosophy than any “missed lesson”. Why can’t the missed lesson here be that we should try our best to help others, EVEN IF it inconveniences us some?
    Nah… the better lesson is that any assistance to anybody is a “handout” and thus evil.
    I agree that it is hypocritical to push for services and then not allow them in your own backyard. Just as it is hypocritical to take so much from the American economic system (job, etc) while whining about your responsibilities to that system (handouts to others).
    but to me, I find it humorous that people confuse “ex-foster child” with “criminal”. I mean OF COURSE all poor people are criminals, not like the upstanding Goldman Sachs and BP employees who are a beacon of light shining on a destitute world.

  11. “Also, it makes no sense to through up this type of housing in one of the most expensive cities in the country. The $4million could go MUCH further if it was in the East Bay, or down the penisula – helping out more people.”
    This is my problem with most supportive housing projects in SF, regardless of whether they are foster kids, ex-cons, people in rehab, or just plain poor. I’m not sure why we should place these sorts of housing in some of the most expensive real estate in this country with some of the most expensive construction costs in this country to boot. We’re really wasting a lot of money by doing this in SF.
    It seems like the ultimate goal for SF is Unaffordable Disneyland for Adults intermixed with housing projects. I suppose that creates a ton of underlings who can be service workers for the elite, but I’m not sure that it would produce a well-balanced economy.

  12. Let me work this through (and I don’t live in this neighborhood).
    24 units of housing in SF = 100+ units of housing almost anywhere else.
    San Francisco is very expensive – does leaving them in SF, really help them?

  13. I have a bias here–Larkin St. Youth Center which does this same thing is one of my favorite SF charities. That said, there is no way to interpret what the Cow Hollow people are saying than, “Not in my backyard,” and, if that is their only or even just best argument, it should be ignored.

  14. It’s about time!
    That Union and Chesnut feel like vacuous, chain-store, outdoor mall environments — no matter.
    This is a good thing. Mix it up.
    “Leaving them” in San Francisco — you mean in the city they’ve GROWN UP IN their whole life and where their extended families live? Wanna deport these brave kids somewhere else? Modesto maybe? Why, because RE is cheaper? Huh?

  15. And haven’t the estimates for housing like this in the past been around $425K+/unit? You could do a lot better in the East Bay and have people still able to take BART to the city if that’s where they work.
    Alternatively, start buying foreclosures from the Palms and turn that into this type of housing slowly.

  16. Unfotunately I think the alternative ends up being just the Unaffordable Disneyland for Adults with no housing for anyone else. While it would be nice if we could have a more balanced populace (rich, middle, working, and lower), the reality is with all the intervention we already have (building limits) the only way to get housing built for anyone other then the rich is to use the power of government to build/promote ‘affordable’ housing.
    The people of SF have continually and repeatedly voted for politicans and initiatives that limit growth and drive up building costs. To blame politicians is to ignore the reality that many of the anti-growth measures were passed directly by the voters (besides the fact that the voters continue to elect politicans that will vote against many new building projects).
    So with the people of SF having put in place a system that makes any new non-subsidized housing unaffordable to anyone but the rich, the only way to get new construction that will provide housing to the non-rich is for it to be subsidized by the government (either through taxes or “fees” on the limited construction of new units for the wealthy).
    We are already so far down the rabbithole of government regulation of SF’s housing market (rent control, anti-growth laws, etc) that there is no way we are ever going to have real market forces that will provide housing in SF to anyone but the rich.

  17. Social services are administered by county, so I don’t think export to Modesto is possible, even were it ethical.

  18. @Invented: How do you know they all grew up in SF?
    And just as a general question – Would you want to help 24 in that part of SF, or help many more in the outskirts of SF or someplace else?
    I would personally rather help more than less.

  19. Those of you making “efficiency” arguments don’t realize that the rest of us don’t believe a word of it.
    In fact, it makes you look worse: not only are you opposed to doing your part to help these people, but you think the rest of us are stupid enough to believe that efficiency is your motivation, rather than your true motivation, to stick someone else with the problem.
    People at this age are more a product of their parents than themselves. This isn’t their fault, and relegating them to fringe areas isn’t going to help. Keeping them in their environment is the best way to do that. I’d rather sincerely help 24 of them then cast aside 100.
    Your arguments are pathetic and make you look insensitive, morally corrupt and manipulative. We’re really not as stupid as you think we are.

  20. “To blame politicians is to ignore the reality that many of the anti-growth measures were passed directly by the voters (besides the fact that the voters continue to elect politicans that will vote against many new building projects).”
    That often seems to be the case, Rillion, and I’m not sure what you do about that other than point out people’s hypocrisy.
    But be careful about confusing “affordable housing” with “supported housing.” It would be far better to support policies that create affordable housing rather than subsidizing affordable housing, as well.

  21. I don’t think you can create affordable housing in this city without subsidizing it at this point.

  22. @tipster: While I agree with you that parenting has much to do with their situation, I would not forget the personal accountability/responsibility that they have.
    Why is that everything is always someone else’s fault or someone else’s problem? Unless its something positive, then people want to take credit, right?
    As for the sincerity of my efficiency argument, that is up to your interpretation, however, if the math makes sense, than what is the issue? And why do you consider all other areas “fringe areas”? Are you telling me that the other locations other than Cow Hollow/Pac Heights in the city are fringe areas? Seems kind of arrogant to assume that people that live in less affluent areas are “fringe”.
    And who said to cast aside 100, I was just making the point that you can help out more people if the housing was in a less expensive area.
    I’m all for helping people out, but just doing it in ways that make the most sense.

  23. what is all this talk about crime these orphans are and abandoned children.these aren’t people in drug rehab are on parole.
    i guess it is a crime to be poor

  24. I live in the neighborhood and don’t have a problem with these kids moving in. I can’t imagine cutting off my 18 year old and telling him to fend for himself. A few more years of support can make all the difference in the lives of these kids. How is it going to be any worse than the Bridge Motel and the hookers? Having said that though, how much is the city spending per sq.ft. and can they get a better deal somewhere else? Even though this place is on the Lombard strip it’s technically Cow Hollow and that means they have to be paying a premium for the building. Are they getting some special deal or are they spending too much? Who knows more about this?

  25. From the sfexaminer.com article (quoted above in the socketsite post):

    Residents and merchants in the neighborhood have expressed outrage at the location chosen for the housing project. Some say the new residents could bring more crime and that including affordable housing into the pricey neighborhood could affect property values.

    This reminded me of my favorite essay on NIMBYism targeted at people not in the planning/architecture/construction business, by Matthew Kiefer:

    [NIMBY’s] not only place their own needs above the public interest but come close to reframing the public interest as a social organization that vindicates their personal needs. No individual wants to accept the incremental burden of meeting a broader societal need.

    This facility could have been placed at any other place in The City and had residents and merchants in the neighborhood “expressing outrage”. San Francisco has NIMBYs just like it has hills; hopefully the Mayor’s Office of Housing will move forward with the project.

  26. The “more crime” reason was used as far back as the mid-19th Century in Great Britain to prevent the building of railroads and continued to be a rationale against public transport all over the world. The poor would be too mobile. And of course, the poor were responsible for crime.
    As for the residents becoming part of a “service economy”, wouldn’t it be great if people could live in Cow Hollow and walk to work in restaurants and shops instead of having them commute from the East Bay, which seems to be a mythical land to where some commenters want to exile them.

  27. scurvy, I might agree with some of your views on the welfare state, but put your thinking cap back on and reconsider including needle exchanges in with all the other handouts you deplore. Perhaps you think that condemning poor people (rich addicts use clean needles) to contract communicable and sometimes fatal diseases is rough justice for their perfidy. That makes you cruel, to be sure. But if you think that the person who handles your utensils, cares for your senile mother, and has consensual sex with your children ought to have these diseases, you are just plain nuts.

  28. I work with youth transitioning from foster care to life as a college kid. Many attend CCSF and SFSU. This is exactly the type of obstacle that prevents many of them from being successful. They spend so much time trying to secure stable housing that they are unable to focus on school and becoming self-reliant. Way too many people support these issues through words only. When they think it will affect their lives in Cow Hollow and other similar places, they work to keep those barriers in place.
    Most of these youth are good kids that have faced unimaginable circumstances. It is terrible that people with means actually work to keep these youth in the cycle of poverty.

  29. I strongly support the Mayor’s office in getting this housing for these foster youth.
    If you live in Cow Hollow or the Marina, I would hope you support the project. Better yet, find the time to volunteer and actually live your progressive values.

  30. @Brian: “..spend so much time trying to secure stable housing that they are unable to focus on school and becoming self-reliant”
    Are you serious? We all had to overcome obstacles, and the obstacles you described were not much different than mine growing up, yet I worked harder to stay focused on school and put myself in a position to have a chance at success.
    Making excuses for people not being accountable is ludicrous.
    With that being said, I firmly support helping, my entire point was predicated on the fact that more help can be done by putting the housing in a less expensive area, and allowing that building to be a source of revenue to help fund these types of programs in the future.

  31. @SFRE I am not sure you fully understand my point. These are youth that have had incredibly difficult childhoods. Kids who have grown up in multiple homes, without parents, suffered abusive situations, constant insecurity year in and year out since birth. Yet they have gotten to the point where they could be successful college students.
    The obstacles they have to overcome are far greater than mine or most of the people I know personally and professionally.
    I cannot comment on your experience, but if it has been that of your typical foster youth, I commend you on your resilience.
    It is absolutely not about making excuses. I hold them accountable to our program and to their responsibilities at school and work. Where I had parents to provide advice and support, they do not. Whether its applying for school, completing financial aid (not an easy task without parent info) or enrolling in school, these youth need support. My point is this: the biggest challenge is having a place to call home that is safe and secure so that they can focus on school and work. I find it reprehensible that an organized neighborhood association and local businesses are working to maintain these obstacles.

  32. @Philip my post was a hyperbole to make a statement. Not a 100% statement of fact. Maybe things such as exaggeration get lost on the Internet — I’ll try harder next time. 😉

  33. I can see 18-20, but 24? Are you kidding? A kid out of foster care could have done a full tour in the military and be halfway through VA bill funded college (or trade school) by the time he’s 24.
    Trust me, you have a 23 or 24 year old “foster kid” in this place the only thing he’ll be transitioning is the stereo from my car into his hands… and teaching the 18-19 years olds how to do it.

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