‘Homelessness’ refers to two different problems 

San Francisco continues to use the blanket term “homelessness” to describe multiple problems. This imprecision in language interferes with development of solutions for the issue.

One category of “homelessness” is those who can and will use government assistance to resume more functional lives. A second category of “homelessness” is the professional street hustler. They use government assistance to periodically recharge their figurative batteries before resuming their preferred life on the streets.

The key problem is that government programs designed to remedy the first category of “homelessness” only serve to sustain the second category. Until we recognize this and respond to the separate problems in separate ways, we will move no closer to solving them.

Riley B. VanDyke, San Francisco

Too many seniors live alone

Thanks for your Tuesday “3-Minute Interview” with Judy Karshmer, dean of USF’s School of Nursing. Karshmer highlighted the huge number of San Francisco seniors who live alone.

For those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, this issue is especially alarming. Their health, safety and well-being are severely at risk. Thank goodness San Francisco is actively planning to address these issues as it proceeds with implementation of its municipal “Strategy for Excellence in Dementia Care.” Karshmer and the Nursing School will be welcome allies in these efforts.

Sherrie Matza, San Francisco

No breaks for hiring felons

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s proposal to give employers a tax break for hiring ex-convicts must be stopped. The assurance that no “really dangerous” felon will be given preferential treatment is without merit, since district attorneys routinely drop the most serious charges to get a plea bargain.

Dropping sexual assault charges is quite popular, so the perpetrator doesn’t have to register. Felons insist that if they aren’t convicted of the charge, they never did it, as the “Nob Hill rapist” asserted on a phone call to a talk radio station some years back. The district attorney had dropped the rape charges to “spare the victims.”

It’s also standard operating procedure for district attorneys to drop rape charges because they don’t feel the victim is “sympathetic” enough. Victims don’t get a day in court, and for Mirkarimi and his allies to insist that these felons deserve “another chance” casts doubt on his qualifications to become our next sheriff.

Elizabeth Frantes, San Francisco

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