About a month ago I was speaking at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference when this nicely dressed white man raised his hand and asked me about black people using social media. Turns out Bevan Dufty has been asking lots of folks in the San Francisco tech community, "Where's our black friends?" Bevan holds the job that most communities refer to as "homeless czar," but Mr. Dufty wanted a title that was a little more encouraging so he asked the Mayor to be Director of H.O.P.E. (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement) for the City of San Francisco. As many of you know I am at war with the use of acronyms. We have more than enough nonprofits with PATH in the title, and honestly, I have no idea what all these acronyms mean when I sit in meetings. But I support Director of H.O.P.E mostly because Bevan Dufty gives me real hope San Francisco will soon have great impact in fighting homelessness.
Bevan heard I was going to be in town and invited me to tag along with him for two days. It was truly an honor, although Mr. Dufty didn't tell me in advance he scheduled me to speak at a homeless board meeting and then TRANS: THRIVE. He even tried to get me to speak at a shelter system hearing. But that is all just part of the Bevan Dufty whirlwind experience.
In a very short time I learned to respect Bevan. I seem to migrate to people who have the courage to be honest at all times, and Bevan is himself -- always! Bevan is so much fun to hang out with, and so refreshingly honest, I forget he's a politician. (Some say he'll be the next mayor.)
Bevan has only held this new position for about seven weeks, but I believe he was destined for this job. A few year's back Bevan was behind San Francisco's library hiring social workers to help our homeless friends -- a move that I was hoping more communities would adopt. Although you may be able to say Bevan is technology-challenged (he did get off a tweet while visiting Twitter with me). He understands technology can help save lives and save tax payers money! San Francisco has some unique challenges when trying to help our homeless friends. In my two days there I could see layers upon layers of bureaucracy -- and bureaucracy kills people. Bevan and the City of San Francisco have a long battle ahead.
One of the many things we agree on is education of marginalized people. Many programs teach low or no income people to wash dishes or similar minimum wage jobs, but with San Fransisco's tech community, it should be easy to start teaching people computer science. I was really excited to help Bevan connect with some of the tech communities and even more excited of the possibilities to affect positive change.
If you live and work in San Francisco please support Bevan Dufty. He has a lot of work to do and with your help we can save lives and save money.
A very special thanks to both Twitter and Google for taking the time to speak with us.
Follow Mark Horvath on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hardlynormal