When I recently attended a neighborhood meeting in the Mission District with Jeff Kositsky, director of the new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, he started with the kind of generic statement we often hear from public officials.
“Let’s remember,” he said, “most criminals are not homeless, and most homeless are not criminals.”
“Disagree!” shouted a woman immediately. “Not in my neighborhood.”
But after a testy start, I found the ensuing dialogue encouraging. Kositsky didn’t pretend that violence, crime and drugs in the encampments aren’t serious neighborhood problems.
“If we don’t deal with the street crime issue,” he said, “we are never going to solve the problem.”
That’s exactly what people like Candace Combs wanted to hear. She’s been in the neighborhood since 1996, and her spa, In-Symmetry, has been in business five years.