Letters to the Editor
The city of Alameda and Alameda County are on the precipice of developing a housing and health option that could be truly transformational for low-income and homeless seniors in our county. The Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) medical recuperative center is designed to follow the best practices from across the county in serving very low-income adults.
Years of research have shown that a program that integrates primary care, permanent supportive housing and recuperative care in a single site is the ideal design to reduce healthcare costs, reduce mortality and improve self-sufficiency and housing stability. APC is expected to outperform the highest-quality recuperative care and medical respite by adding on-site primary care and permanent housing.
In other recuperative-care centers designed to serve frail homeless adults as a step down from the acute hospital, most participants are able to stabilize their health in the recuperative center and then stay safe as they await placement in permanent housing. Our organization has evaluated programs from Boston to San Francisco and has seen no evidence that housing and medical respite programs attract homeless people to their neighborhood, nor do they result in participants being discharged to the streets in the area. In San Francisco where more than 3,000 homeless adults have been served in the medical respite program, all have been referred to permanent housing, back to housing with their families or, as a last resort, to an emergency shelter.
Serendipitously, while APC is ramping up, Alameda County is undergoing an unprecedented expansion in housing options for homeless seniors including investments in rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing that integrates county-funded services and new construction affordable housing supported by voter-approved Bond A1 funds.
As a physician and researcher who has cared for and served homeless adults nationally for the past 30 years, it is exciting to see my home county take leadership in establishing the high-quality housing and healthcare treatment that will be a leader for the nation while giving the low-income seniors in the community the chance to thrive and find a home of their own.
Measure A will save lives. That is what Alameda will be voting on for the April 9th special election, and that is what we are fighting for. Baby Boomers are aging and many do not have a safety net after they are no longer physically able to work. That is why seniors now represent half of all homeless people.
Grandparents. Veterans. Real human beings.
Every day I’ve been standing in the freezing cold by the tunnel for two hours, waving my “Yes on A” sign, because I care and I know the Alameda I grew up in cares. I respect that there will be differences of opinions, and that’s fine.
Measure B is ostensibly to “save our parks” and it’s “for our children’s future,” but make no mistake about it — the deceptive Measure B initiative is designed to intentionally stop a project that will otherwise save the lives of very vulnerable people.
However, I saw three people dressed in crab costumes and dancing wildly by the tunnel while waving their “Yes on B” signs. I was astonished! Yes, it’s amusing. But think about what that represents. They are making a total circus out of what is a growing humanitarian problem, and they are offering no solutions of their own. They are pitting non-profits against non-profits.
They are pitting frail seniors against non-existent parks. They are on the verge of bankrupting our city parks with $11.7 to $22 million of unfunded liabilities. And they’re dancing and wearing crab costumes all the while.
Please, tell me that this is not what Alameda is about. Tell me that we are better than this. I urge my fellow Alamedans to have some compassion and vote “yes” on A and “no” on B.
Tent cities are increasing all over the Bay Area.
Now we have a chance to help, in fact, a moral imperative! Pass Measure A to allow Alameda Point Collaborative to build housing and care facilities in unused government buildings.
Measure B supporters oppose developing this housing, saying they want to preserve “open space for our children.” Some also say they oppose bringing homeless people from outside Alameda to become housed in Alameda.
Wait, parks before homes? Play before survival? Such unethical priorities result from bias and fear.
“In California, 68 percent of homeless people are unsheltered compared to just 5 percent in New York,” according to Margot Kushel, a researcher with UC San Francisco. This is a direct result of the high cost of living in our state and furthermore, she reports, that unsheltered people are likely to be criminally abused, sick and hungry.
If you support Measure B, ask yourself: why are you afraid of providing shelter and treatment for people from Alameda County who need it? Do you perhaps believe that people without homes or people battling addiction may commit crimes? In fact it is the opposite that, unhoused, they will become victims of crime. Shouldn’t we do everything we can to help fellow Californians sleeping on the streets by providing safe shelter and services?
Alamedans, be good neighbors! Let’s not hoard unused space for an unneeded, unfunded park next to an existing park! Vote “yes” Measure A and “no” on Measure B.