Statement: It would be an attraction because of its offering free food stamps, free lunch, free beauty salon, free medical and dental services and help signing up for public assistance money,” wrote James Hughes and Jack Gambrell, downtown business owners, in a Union-Tribune op-ed published July 11.
Determination: Barely True
Analysis:Hughes and Gambrell were referring to a proposed new homeless center at the city’s World Trade Center downtown.
They were especially concerned over a “One Stop Homeless Service Center” that would draw 60 to 100 people to the center daily. The debate has proved polarizing, and the op-ed came in advance of a major discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee.
Since the project is in the planning stages, much of what will actually happen is still hypothetical. But we can check against what is currently planned.
What stuck out to us what the authors’ use of the phrase “free beauty salon.” Will there really be a beauty salon for the homeless?
The same organization behind the San Diego project has a facility in L.A., where there is a “personal care center” where residents and program participants can get a haircut, a beard trim and basically clean up before going on job interviews. Not exactly a beauty salon.
What’s more, the San Diego proposal does not currently include one of these personal care centers.
Hughes, the op-ed author, said the grooming services were presented as part of a video at a City Council committee hearing a few months ago about what the L.A. center looks like. The L.A. center has been touted as a model for the San Diego center.
He also said he doesn’t oppose providing grooming help to homeless people, but he doesn’t want the crowd to come to his neighborhood.
“I think this is probably a good idea, you know, having a place to be able to handle these kind of needs,” he said. “My issue is where they’re trying to put it. I think that the concept is OK. I wouldn’t particularly want to put it with the housing.”
The phrase “beauty salon” suggests more than basic haircuts and grooming and the San Diego proposal does not currently include plans to implement such a center. But the authors did have reason to believe a care center would be there and the rest of the items on their list check out. So we’re labeling the statement Barely True.
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— KELLY BENNETT