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About Us & Our Mission

San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable Need Help

By HAP Staff

The faces of homeless individuals in San Francisco are as diverse as the population of the city itself: men, women and transgendered; of every ethnicity and race; straight and gay; from San Francisco and beyond; from the working poor to the severely disabled; from the very young to the very old. The subject of this month’s “face” is among the latter: an elderly woman who resides in one of San Francisco’s homeless shelters.

The client is 92 years old, a widow who “looks like a breeze could knock her over.” She has observable mental problems that have worsened as she has aged. For ten years she lived relatively stable in subsidized housing in the city. Earlier this year, the property management company from whom she rented, gave her a notice that they wanted to spray her unit for bugs. For reasons only she knows – fear of letting anyone into her apartment, worry about the toxicity of insecticide, lack of understanding about what would be involved – she refused to allow her apartment to be sprayed.

The management company could have sprayed the unit without the client’s consent. Instead the management chose to evict her. When the eviction day arrived, the sheriff removed her possessions and a social worker from Adult Protective Services arranged for her to be taken to a shelter.

Given her age, her mental state, and the fact that she had an eviction on her record, it is very difficult to find her appropriate housing. A HAP staff attorney recently helped to vacate the judgment against her, but the fact that she was involved in eviction proceedings remains a public record.

The client only wants to go home to her old apartment. Early in October, the client awoke at the shelter to find that she was completely blind and she was taken to San Francisco General Hospital. A critical aspect of the work of the Homeless Advocacy Project is to prevent homelessness, so that people like this client never fall into such an intractable abyss. HAP pursues this goal in two ways – through individual advocacy on behalf of individuals and families threatened with imminent eviction, and through more systemic work designed to improve the policies and procedures of housing providers who serve the most vulnerable people in the city.

Learn about the Homeless Advocacy Project.