City Apparently Reverses Course, Promises No Reduction in Homeless Beds in 2010

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Apparently, the city's bed-count will remain constant...
San Francisco officials are expected to file documents in federal court this week stating they have reached an agreement with anti-poverty activists on a pledge to not reduce the number of shelter beds available to homeless people this year.

This represents an about-face from city policy of even a week ago, when it seemed as if officials would seek authority to cut homeless beds by as much as 25 percent during the coming year.

On Jan. 18, SF Weekly reported that, just as Mayor Gavin Newsom made promises about getting people off city streets, attorneys for the city were quietly fighting in court to preserve the city's right to slash the number of emergency shelter beds for homeless people.

The battle over whether or not the city would have the option of cutting back on shelter beds has been fought in the U.S. District Court for Northern California -- where, last year, the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates and the anti-poverty group Western Regional Advocacy Project sued the city, alleging that homeless programs discriminated against the poor and elderly.

As of last month, it seemed the two parties had reached a settlement whereby the city would agree not to eliminate shelter beds. But then, according to plaintiffs filings, San Francisco backed out of that agreement, and instead sought a deal that would give the city the option of eliminating 282 of the existing 1,126 shelter beds and 30 of the existing 118 drop-in spaces.

Now, it seems, the city has reversed course again. The city is expected to file papers this week alerting the court to a renewed deal to preserve San Francisco's shelter beds, at least for one year. The agreement will next be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

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