Letters to the Editor: Why Karen Bass and Rick Caruso both give reason to hope on homelessness
Karen Bass and Rick Caruso are the two people most responsible for our ongoing war on homelessness in the county. They’ve waged this campaign relentlessly for more than a decade, first with their advocacy groups, then with their own words, and now with their new books.
The books are an attack on me for my own advocacy of homelessness policy.
Both Bass and Caruso have been in my corner, not on my behalf, but against the anti-homelessness camp on many issues.
They do so not only for ideological and political reasons, as their books make clear, but also because they are truly homeless people, and, for a long time, homeless people have been my friends.
In 2006, I went to San Francisco to meet with the Homeless Policy Team of The Coalition for the Homeless, which was working on a number of homeless policy issues, including the homeless crisis in San Francisco.
I was sitting in the audience. I made eye contact with one of the Homeless Policy Team members, Caruso. He had a reputation for being one-man-band, one of the most effective homeless activists in San Francisco. He was one of the leaders of the Homeless Caucus, of which I was a member at the time.
He didn’t have a job. Caruso, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador at 18 with his father, a janitor working at a high school, worked in a restaurant and as a janitor.
He wrote a book on what he learned in the restaurant business. It was a memoir of his first nine years in the U.S. as a high school janitor. The book was called, “I Was a Janitor.”
But Caruso and his father weren’t janitors. He was a janitor, and then a teacher at the high school.
He taught English, and then took the bar exam. He was a high school English teacher, and then a substitute teacher for the same school for three years. His substitute work ended when he got married and worked as a secretary.
From there, Caruso worked in the field of social work during the summers. He did a stint with an organization that helped immigrants who