Stories from Our Guests

dsc01476-2dsc01476-2As the Executive Director of St. Anthony’s I often find myself speaking on behalf of the people whom we serve in an effort to ensure that their perspectives are understood. However, it is my belief that it is always better to hear from them directly, in their own words. They feel respected when they are listened to, and we hear their voices more clearly—both their passion and their plight. So, in this spirit, I am happy to share with you the observations of some of our guests about an issue that is important and sometimes difficult to talk about.

For the next five weeks we will be sharing stories from people in our community who, through lack of housing, do not have access to bathrooms, showers, laundry and garbage services. These stories are an opportunity for us to get a glimpse of what it is like to go without access to basic necessities that most of us take for granted.

Follow us on Facebook to read these stories as they are posted and to have the opportunity to join the conversation.

Peace and All Good,

Barry Stenger

Standing Up for Health Care

The Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or “Obamacare”) has been an important advance in health care policy for St. Anthony’s guests, allowing homeless Dining Room clients, single adults with disabilities who find support through our Social Work Center, and Fr. Alfred Center residents who are rebuilding their lives after struggling with addiction, to access the medical care they need.

Should Congress eliminate the Affordable Care Act, California would lose $16 billion in federal Medicaid funding, eliminating coverage to 3.5 million low-income Californians, including St. Anthony’s guests.   This would be due to the loss of the federally-funded “Medicaid expansion”, which allows low-income adults who previously were not eligible for Medicaid (called “Medi-Cal” in California) to be able to receive health care through the program.  Should the Medicaid expansion end, 78,000 San Franciscans, including homeless people, low-wage workers, and people who are unemployed, would lose access to health coverage through Medi-Cal.

How can we stand up to protect health care for the St. Anthony’s community? The answer to this question is simple: we need to engage with our elected officials and encourage our friends and family members to do the same.  Here are a few things we can do:

Sign up for St. Anthony’s advocacy email alerts here and we will let you know when it’s time to get in touch with your elected officials.  We will send advocacy alerts with information about the latest political news, and a link to a simple online form that makes it easy to send an email to your Congressional representatives.

Call your member of Congress.  Use the number for the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and the operator can connect you to your Senators and Representative.  Not sure who represents you?  Click here for the U.S. House of Representatives or here for the U.S. Senate.  You can search for your representative by zip code or by state at each site.

Share your storyHealth Access California, a  statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, is collecting stories from people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.  Click here if you’d like to share your story with them.

Please feel free to contact Colleen Rivecca, St. Anthony’s Advocacy Program Lead with any questions about advocacy at St. Anthony’s.


Advocacy Committee members wanted


Are you passionate about making San Francisco a city where all persons flourish? Do you care deeply about issues of hunger, homelessness, health care access and income equality?

Do you like talking about policy and politics, sharing ideas, and planning events?

If so, St. Anthony’s Advocacy Committee wants to meet you!

St. Anthony’s Advocacy Committee takes action to address the issues of injustice (lack of shelter, affordable housing, health care, and adequate income) that trap too many of our brothers and sisters in a cycle of poverty that perpetuates an ongoing need for direct assistance.

We’re seeking new members who meet the following criteria:

Must-have Qualifications

  • A passion and excitement for effecting change in local policy to benefit San Francisco’s neediest
  • An interest in the work of St. Anthony’s and its role in the San Francisco community
  • Availability to attend in-person meetings once per month and willingness to contribute/communicate semi-frequently outside of meetings

Valued Qualifications

  • Professional or volunteer experience or connections in policy, politics, communications, outreach, or advocacy

St. Anthony’s Advocacy Committee values diversity of background and experience, and welcomes new members with a deep personal connection to its areas of focus.   

Please email Advocacy Committee member Emily Salvaterra at if interested.  

Election Information Resources

Vote-by-mail ballots for the November 8 General Election are hitting mailboxes now.   St. Anthony’s is proud to provide nonpartisan voter registration and education information to our community, and we want to share some election resources that will make it easier to understand how our super-sized ballot relates to the issues that affect the lives of our guests and to our ability to promote a society where all can flourish.

The League of Women Voters Pros and Cons guides are a great resource, providing an unbiased overview of the ballot measures.  Their California guide is available here.  The San Francisco Public Press has a great nonpartisan guide to the 25 local propositions here.

Our local ballot contains quite a few propositions related to St. Anthony’s advocacy issue areas: housing/homelessness, health care, hunger, and work/income.  San Franciscans will be deciding whether to enact measures to:

Increase the sales tax and fund services for homeless people

• Create a fund for health and nutrition services for seniors and people with disabilities

• Enact a law prohibiting tents on public sidewalks

• Direct current hotel tax funding towards arts and family homelessness programs

• Require City Hall to solicit more bids in the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing

• Raise the income limits for access to affordable housing

We have also put together our own analysis of the local ballot measures that relate to our advocacy issue areas, which is available here.

No matter your stance on this year’s election issues, we hope that you will register, vote, and make your voice heard!

Beyond Outrage: Rediscovering our Neighbors

Beyond Outrage: Rediscovering our NeighborsThroughout last week, Bay Area media outlets made a concerted effort to focus on the issue of homelessness in San Francisco. They admittedly stepped beyond their role of just reporting the news and used their resources to try to creatively propose solutions to this vexing social issue. We consider this a real service to the folks we serve at St. Anthony’s.

St. Anthony’s has been very much a part of this effort: I have done a number of interviews for radio and TV, and our communications staff have arranged interviews with staff and guests and provided important background materials about our programs.

What consistently came through in the media’s coverage was confirmation of what surveys of San Franciscans show: 97 percent San Francisco residents say that they consider homeless to be a serious problem for the city (77 percent agree that it’s a “crisis”). Seventy percent say that they are pessimistic about whether this problem can be solved.

Perhaps not unrelated to this pessimism is the fact that most of the media’s discussion of the problem of homelessness in San Francisco pointed to city government as the party responsible for creating this crisis and the party responsible for coming up with solutions. That seems to me to be a recipe for pessimism: if we as members of the larger community point to those people over there, the homeless, as the problem, and then ask the agencies over here, the city, to clean it up, we are doomed to frustration and failure.

read more…

Be a Voter!

Two smiling women stand outdoors and hold signs reading "Vote Baby Vote" and "Voting is People Power," c. 1970. (Photo by Gabriel Hackett /Getty Images)

Today, Monday May 23, is the last day to register to vote for the California Primary Election on June 7, 2016.

Because we believe that every voice is important, and because lower-income communities are historically underrepresented at the polls, St. Anthony’s conducts non-partisan voter registration and information activities for our community.

Here are some nonpartisan voting resources for Californians, including some specific resources for San Francisco voters.

Californians can register to vote online (in 10 different languages) at the Secretary of State website, here.

Find your sample ballot using the Voter’s Edge California website, here.

San Franciscans can find their polling place at the San Francisco Department of Elections website, here.

There is one state ballot measure on the June 7 primary election ballot.  The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund has a nonpartisan overview of the state ballot measure, Prop 50, here.

San Franciscans will see six local ballot measures on the June 7 primary election ballot.  The League of Women Voters of San Francisco Education Fund has a nonpartisan overview of San Francisco ballot measures here.

San Franciscans can vote early at City Hall (outside Room 48) at these times:

May 9 – June 7, 2016
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed May 30, 2016)

May 28 – 29 and June 4 – 5, 2016
Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (please enter at Grove Street)

Tuesday, June 7
Election Day! 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

San Franciscans interested in being poll workers can get more information at the San Francisco Department of Elections website here and can apply online here.