Library adds social worker to assist homeless
Look, I've got a pretty high tolerance for dealing with homeless people from working in the Borders book mines here in San Francisco, but the SF main branch sketches me out. It's become the de facto hangout for dozens if not hundreds of homeless people every day. I know the library is warm, dry and (mostly) peaceful. I know they don't have anywhere else to go. But still, it's great they have a professional there now to help these people.
And maybe I won't see naked homeless dudes washing their junk in the sink or trimming callouses with a knife anymore?
The bathrooms often have proved downright scary, with people doing drugs, bathing in the sinks and having sex in the stalls. Patrons' comments collected by the library over the past couple of years include, "The Main Branch library, while well-intentioned, looks like a homeless shelter inside and out." And, "The homeless are driving me and many of my professional friends away."
In many ways, its popularity as a homeless hangout is no surprise because the library is centrally located, free, open to anyone, doesn't have security checks and has plenty of bathrooms. But the library has, well, begun to turn the page on the problem by hiring what is believed to be the country's first full-time psychiatric social worker stationed in a public library.
In a partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the library hired Leah Esguerra a year ago this month, and she now has directed into social services more than 150 homeless people and others living on the edge in low-cost residential hotels who frequent the library.