Weak Foundation

The post of homeless coordinator may be so much window dressing

According to a report by a task force of former Mayor Jordan's, the city spent $38.8 million on homeless programs. An additional $17 million came from state and federal sources. This same report counted 1,400 emergency shelter beds, with an additional 100 beds during winter.

When asked what state and federal funds he had targeted or obtained for San Francisco, Olshin says he is coordinating a September fund-raiser at a Noe Valley restaurant. He says he anticipates raising $10,000.

As for discretionary spending: "If you mean, 'Do I have a budget?' I do in that I have a staff," he says.

Although Olshin answers to the mayor, he says he does not meet with Brown regularly. And that, say Olshin's detractors, is just one more piece of evidence pointing toward Brown's indifference.

"This is a bad choice for a reason," says May. "The unwritten message is that the mayor doesn't see homelessness as a valuable issue. If there's a problem, he'll blame Andy and fire him."

Calvin Welch of the Council of Community Housing Organizations says the problems are bigger than Olshin. "Andy is a choice I have criticized," he says, "but if Mayor Brown appointed Sister Teresa for a position with no budget, no power to implement programs, no ability to affect departments that affect the homeless, and that can only reflect the bias of the mayor, it still wouldn't work.

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