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San Francisco slammed for $5M a 12 months program to offer free alcohol to the homeless: ‘This is not working’


A program that offers free booze to the homeless alcoholics that roam San Francisco caught flak this week when a tech CEO questioned the logic of feeding the addictions of the city’s street dwellers.

Adam Nathan, founder and CEO of the small business AI marketing tool Blaze and the chair of the Salvation Army San Francisco Metro Advisory Board, posted a thread on X slamming the program after watching a string of unhoused drunks line up for their shots, stating it “just doesn’t feel right.”

“Did you know San Francisco spends $2 million a year on a “Managed Alcohol Program?” It provides free Alcohol to people struggling with chronic alcoholism who are mostly homeless,” Nathan wrote on the social media site.

San Francisco’s “managed alcohol program” for its homeless was called into question this week. Anadolu via Getty Images

His estimate was actually just 40% of the total cost — the four-year-old “managed alcohol program” actually costs the city $5 million a year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The program as described by the Chronicle sees nurses dispense “controlled doses” of vodka and beer to street people at specific times of the day. Intended to keep the homeless off the streets and out of jail or the emergency room, it’s run out of a former hotel in the city’s Tenderloin district.

The program started with 10 beds and has now grown to 20, the Chronicle reported. Over the four years, it’s served 65 clients total, the report said, with the goal of keeping the participants out of the ER and reducing calls to cops.

Nathan said he took a close look at the high-octane giveaways.

The former hotel that houses the program, which has grown to cost the city $5 million. Google Maps

“Inside the lobby, they had a kegs set up to taps where they were basically giving out free beer to the homeless who’ve been identified with [alcohol use disorder],” he wrote. “It’s set up so people in the program just walk in and grab a beer, and then another one. All day.”

“Providing free drugs to drug addicts doesn’t solve their problems. It just stretches them out,” Nathan continued. “Where’s the recovery in all of this?”

He noted in his post that there is a harm reduction approach called “safe supply,” that some areas like Canada’s British Columbia use to provide free opiods to users so they don’t overdose on fentanyl.

But the results of those efforts have been mixed and sparked “huge debate,” Nathan said.

Adam Nathan, the founder and CEO of the the small business AI marketing tool Blaze, posted a thread on X slamming the program after watching a string of unhoused drunks line up for shots.
Anadolu via Getty Images

“I’m no doctor or ‘expert’ on issues of drug policy,” he continued. “But I am a taxpayer. When did this Managed Alcohol Program get approved? Where were the public hearings? Why is it hidden away in an old hotel?”

The Salvation Army runs numerous recovery programs that focus on abstinence.

Nathan told the outlet that locals are not adequately informed about the program because San Francisco’s health department is worried over how “the program will be perceived by the public, and that to me was validated by the reaction to what I tweeted.” 

“Providing free drugs to drug addicts doesn’t solve their problems. It just stretches them out,” Nathan continued. “Where’s the recovery in all of this?” Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The city’s health officials retorted that Nathan spread misinformation and that the alcohol on the premises isn’t readily available to anyone who walks in.

“As a Democrat, I’m all for directing more govt funds to programs that achieve their objectives and provide public benefits,” he said in a follow up post after the Chronicle’s story, pointing to President Biden’s infrastructure bill, the bipartisan CHIPs act, healthcare subsidies for low income people as examples. “But this isn’t working.”

He said the city’s health department “is not helping people get better, it’s about keeping people sick,” and added, “We are living in the upside down.”





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