San Francisco's Main Library has long been a gathering place for the homeless who sometimes disturbed studious patrons and librarians with inappropriate behavior like doing drugs or bathing in bathroom sinks. But a year ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the library became the first in the country to address the problem head-on by hiring a full-time psychiatric social worker.
Leah Esguerra works full-time to handle complaints, refer cases to social services, train library staff and manage a cadre of formerly homeless "health and safety associates" who have completed a 12-week vocational rehabilitation program and are then employed by the library.
Melvin Morris, the first associate hired by the library,
"tells people caught shaving or bathing in the sinks to move on, and summons security for more serious problems, such as hostile junkies. But usually, he simply reaches out with compassion. 'I come from the same place they come from,' he said. 'When I talk to them, they can't believe I was actually homeless. I tell them they could do it, too.'"
The program, the San Francisco Chronicle writes, is working to create a more pleasant experience for neighborhood scholars and new opportunities for the homeless of San Francisco. Read the full story at SFGate.com.