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Bayview Residents Weigh Adding a New Homeless Shelter

| April 10, 2014
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Mother Brown's Dining Room, a soup kitchen in Bayview-Hunters Point, wants to add a 100-bed homeless shelter (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Mother Brown’s Dining Room, a soup kitchen in Bayview-Hunters Point, wants to add a 100-bed homeless shelter (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Mother Brown’s Dining Room is a Bayview-Hunters Point institution. For the past decade, the small soup kitchen has served breakfast and dinner to the neighborhood’s hungry. The organization that operates Mother Brown’s also allows homeless people to sit overnight in plastic chairs in a room on the building’s second floor. Now, the city wants to open a 100-bed homeless shelter to an adjacent warehouse. But the plan has drawn opposition from neighbors and local merchants. About 2,000 neighborhood residents have signed a petition, arguing that the shelter would add to the gritty neighborhood’s problems.

Calvin Henderson is one of many homeless people who sleep in the chairs at Mother Brown's (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Calvin Henderson is one of many homeless people who sleep in the chairs at Mother Brown’s (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Calvin Henderson was nodding off during breakfast service on a recent weekday morning after another poor night’s sleep in the chairs upstairs. Like other homeless people in the area, he stays at Mother Brown’s because there are few alternatives. “It swells your feet up,” he said of sleeping upright. “I’ve been up all night.”

Marvin Robinson, owner of Dollar Store and More on 3rd Street, sees both sides of the issue (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Marvin Robinson, owner of Dollar Store and More on Third Street, sees both sides of the issue (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

“We really don’t have a homeless shelter out here,” said Marvin Robinson, owner of the Dollar Store and More on Third Street. Robinson said that neighbors are concerned that the shelter would attract homeless from outside the neighborhood, and that it would result in more loitering and noise late at night. “I see the issue of being a property owner,” Robinson said. “But some of the homeless are stakeholders — they grew up in this neighborhood.”

Longtime Bayview resident Larry Williams supports opening a new homeless shelter (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Longtime Bayview resident Larry Williams supports opening a new homeless shelter. (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

Larry Williams has lived in the Bayview since in the 1960s and he currently lives in an RV, which is parked just down the block from Mother Brown’s. “I grew up and went to school with all these people. So, I know all these neighbors around here. And all the newer neighbors around here, they came up in here acting like they’re so community-minded, trying to push us out because they don’t want no shelters. But if you ain’t never been homeless, you ain’t got no business even speakin on this.”

Shane Mayer, co-chair of Bayview Residents Improving Their Environment, opposes the proposed shelter (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Shane Mayer, co-chair of Bayview Residents Improving Their Environment, opposes the proposed shelter (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Shane Mayer moved to the Bayview about three years ago, and he lives a couple blocks away from Mother Brown’s. He co-chairs Bayview Residents Improving Their Environment, an organization that promotes neighborhood rejuvenation efforts. Mayer thinks the Bayview is an up-and-coming neighborhood, but he’s worried that adding beds to Mother Brown’s would attract more homeless people. “My position is that we should have supportive housing for them — not an emergency shelter.”

Evaristo Morales Crúz regularly eats at Mother Brown's (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Evaristo Morales Crúz regularly eats at Mother Brown’s. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Evaristo Morales Crúz, from Veracruz, Mexico, works for a roofing company in Bayview-Hunters Point and eats at Mother Brown’s Dining Room two or three times per week. “The food makes me strong,” he said. “No food, no power.” Crúz says he has slept in the chairs a few times, when it was too late to go to a shelter. “It’s better than the street.”

Breakfast service at Mother Brown's Dining Rom (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Breakfast service at Mother Brown’s Dining Room (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

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Category: Housing

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  • Jim Chi

    I am a homeowner with two kids who lives a few blocks away from the proposed shelter and I fully support it.

  • Jon

    Bayview has the highest unemployment rate and highest drug addiction rates in the city. Are the homeless being sent there to get them out of the way? Its certainly not an attempt to get them out of homelessness.

  • Ocean Edgar

    This story disgusts me. People who buy a cheap house in an impoverished neighborhood and then complain about it should stop feeling so entitled. That neighborhood does not need to be ‘gentrified’ by white people who have a very exclusive idea of what a good community is. Does HP really need fancy coffee and vintage cute vintage shops to make it a good neighborhood? I’m an Oakland native and someone pooped on my lawn once and I wasn’t outraged like the woman on the radio broadcast of this story. These people fighting the shelter- who’s the parasite? You think you’re any better (or more deserving of a place to lay your head) than a homeless person who grew up in that neighborhood? In Oakland, gentrification is all around me and I’m not so sure this will improve anything when all is said and done. Which is funny, because I am a new business owner in one of these ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods. But I will ALWAYS be an Oakland native, who does not feel entitled to live in a bubble. I do not walk around totally unaware of the environment I’m in. I grew up in the 70′s going to truly integrated public schools, unlike many of the new home owners flocking here. I see many of the people moving here driving up housing costs as a pestilence. NOT the homeless people who are struggling in this world.