Update: Barbara Garcia, director of the Department of Public Health, tells SF Weekly that no decision has been made as to whether the Daily Homeless Connect program will go forward. An internal meeting on the issue was scheduled for today but has since been canceled.
Original Story Feb. 23, 2011: Before leaving office this year, former Mayor Gavin Newsom signed a $400,000 contract with Tenderloin Health to operate the much anticipated Daily Homeless Connect program 40 hours a week.
A location was chosen and construction plans were being drafted, with an opening slated for February.
But the month is nearly over, and the one-stop shop for San Francisco's chronically homeless residents never opened -- and nobody seems to know why.
David Fernandez, executive director of Tenderloin Health, told SF Weekly today that he isn't sure why plans came to a screeching halt, but noted it happened after Newsom left office and Mayor Ed Lee took over in January. The funding for the program, which was supposed to be housed in the Tenderloin, was approved in last year's budget.
"We had the mayoral change and then it was put on hold," Fernandez said Wednesday. "We have not gotten the go-ahead to do anything. I don't know what it means."
It's a real blow to Newsom's legacy, considering this was the program that he said would help the city reach his stated goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2014.
The program was a spin off his legacy Project Homeless Connect, where every few months, thousands of homeless residents packed the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to get a range of services they needed. The one-day event was never enough, Newsom said, and so in his last State of the City Speech in January 2010, he vowed to make the quarterly event a daily drop-in.
The Daily Homeless Connect was supposed to serve 100 homeless residents daily. Dariush Kayhan, the mayor's adviser on homeless issues, punted questions to the Health Department, saying it was now overseeing the program.
When we contacted the Department of Public Health asking to talk with Director Barbara Garcia, officials told us her scheduled was too "crammed."
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