Don't Book 'Em

A new library program tries to gently ease the homeless problem out the door

"Is one person a good track record for the library? Of course that doesn't sound good," said Rajesh Parekh, director of SF HOT. The team has requested about 10 supportive housing spots since October, Parekh said, but unfortunately there aren't enough spots for everyone, and the most gravely ill or disabled get first dibs. "Outreach is good, but it doesn't do any good unless you have something else to offer people," he admits. He adds that it takes a while to build trust; he hopes that when homeless library users get accustomed to the outreach team, they'll seek out help.

First, however, the homeless people need to know that the outreach workers are there. The library, in its careful attempt to respect homeless patrons' right to be left alone, may be missing an opportunity to leave them better off.

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