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CNN Today

San Francisco Counts Homeless

Aired May 1, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Even before the 2000 Census began there were years that Americans living on the street would be undercounted. There was a recent attempt to count homeless people in San Francisco, and critics say the result of that count proves the point.

Isabelle Duron (ph) of CNN affiliate KRON-TV in San Francisco has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISABELLA DURON, KRON REPORTER (voice-over): The homeless may seem easy to see but they're not easy to count. Now homeless advocates are challenging the mayor's office on its first count of this transient population in 15 years.

Volunteer workers came up with 4800 homeless after their two-hour tally Thursday night. Homeless advocates say the number, any given night, is at least double that and more like 12,000 to 14,000.

SARA RAIDER, COALITION ON HOMELESSNESS: I believe that that number is very low because of the methodology that was put into coming up with that number.

DURON: Mara Raider says the count was very flawed, that it did not go wide or deep. She says the counters saw the minority of homeless out there. The majority are invisible because of fear of reprisals and distrust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven't asked me anything.

DURON: Six nights a week, Carl Webber (ph) beds down in a church doorway. He says no one came calling on his cardboard shelter Thursday night.

(on camera): Do you know of any other homeless people they have talked to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None that I know of, you know, the people I know would've told me...

DURON (voice-over): Mayor Willie Brown defended the count, saying it just looks like there are more homeless out there, because the city is so geographically compact.

But as late as '97 the city was applying for federal funds. Claiming it had over 14,000 homeless.

Board President Tom Ammiano says an under count hurts the city too.

TOM AMMIANO, SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISOR: Then you will hurt the city because those number will not translate to the needed dollars for the needed services.

DURON: Supervisor Ammiano thinks homeless critics want to use the numbers to defend their positions that the homeless numbers are small, they're just not using the services.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: Isabelle Duron of CNN affiliate KRON.

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