Cortland House.


The Progress Foundation purports to serve the mentally ill but no one in San Francisco has really studied the programs it offers: Crisis Residential, Transitional Residential, Supported Living, and other services with the aid of State and Federal money and private donations.

Recently I visited the Cortland House that was established in 1982. The Cortland House in located a block away from Mission Street and its exact address in 146 Coleridge Street. Assessor parcel number 5615020.

Cortland House purports to serve the African American community as it states in its mission objective. It purports to provide psychiatric crisis Residential treatment programs. It purports to work on such issues as personal hygiene, money management, and cooking. It endeavors in its mission objective to help the mentally ill patients work as a team, preparing meals, keeping the house clean, and hopes that through such informal therapy help its clients who are under their charge.

146 Coleridge is listed as Assessor Parcel Number 5615020. It is also listed as a two family residential house and situated in District 9 - Bernal Heights North.

The Progress Foundation Directors would be well advised to visit this site and take a look of the state of affairs going at this facility.

I visited the facility on June 4, 2004 with a Case Manager from North Beach and found the outside of this residential home filthy. It has no ramp that meets the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act ADA) which is a requirement if this residential house is used to treat the mentally ill. The steps are so steep that I nearly fell down.

At the side of the stairs there are no railings. What makes any movement down the stairs even more dangerous is a spiked fence that is a safety hazard. I entered a room to help a client who was discriminated against in an emergency capacity with Boon Chahn from North Beach. The patient was given 24 hours notice to evacuated without any reasonable accommodation from those that purport to manage the Crisis Residential Treatment at Cortland House in the District in which I live District 9 in San Francisco. Our Supervisor is Tom Ammiano. He is not aware of the details but will be when he reads this article.

I entered the room and found that the windows were not sealed from the adverse affects of gusty winds, the fog, and cold. A constant draft made the room very cold. There was NO heat. I was shocked.

In our civilized San Francisco any landowner that rents any living space is mandated to provide 13 hours of heat when it is cold. Thank God in San Francisco we provide a haven for poor renters and in doing so embrace the poor and those who need help like the mentally ill. Does Cortland House provide heat to all those who take shelter therein?

If there is a client who is mentally ill and NO heat is provided to this client and if this client has been at the mercy of the Case Manager at Cortland House and the Supervisor Lorraine Togia without heat for so long - may I inquire who is responsible for this lack of compassion?

My investigation led me to uncover many other mandated laws that were broken. Our California State Department of Social Services, Housing and Urban Department, Community Health Network of San Francisco a purported integrated delivery system of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health should be ashamed of themselves. I will take this matter first with Gene O’Connor from the San Francisco General Hospital and then with Angela Alioto who heads a 30 member committee trying to help this City and County of San Francisco address the needs of the homeless and the mentally ill who comprise about 40 percent of the more then 22,000 homeless.

I have sent an informal letter to the Directors of the Progress Foundation and I am waiting for a prompt reply. I will follow up with the San Francisco Building Inspectors and will personally meet the Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom to address my heart-felt concerns regarding the mentally ill at Cortland House.

I have addressed the Health Commissioners and they know my position. The Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom, Supervisor Tom Ammiano, others with compassion have NOT made cuts to the programs linked to the mentally ill.

We expect everyone who is in the business of treating the mentally ill without reserve to treat them fairly. This includes Cortland House and the Board of Directors who manage the Progress Foundation and its facilities.

For the last 20 years I have been following the plight of the mentally ill. Every year and this includes this year the plight of those who need help most has been devastating. My heart bleeds to see our mentally ill roaming the streets of San Francisco without any help.

Progress Foundation gets millions of dollars from the State and Federal government. This fiduciary benefit mandates fair play and treatment that is lacking at Cortland House. It would be prudent for the Board of Director to investigate and report to those concerned if that is the case at all the homes and facilities Progress Foundation purports to offer exemplary care for those that need help most - our mentally ill.

Can someone report to me directly if the discrepancies I have found at Cortland House are true and if so what has been done to rectify the wrongs?

Finally I may add that Suzanne Blunck who was at Cortland House when I visited the facility needs to be trained in social skills. Her interaction with guests and others desires much. In a setting that demands civility she was rude in her talk and manner. Can you imagine how she treats those who are at her mercy?

A through investigation of all of Progress Foundation facilities may NOT reveal the discrepancies I found at Cortland House. However, the Directors of Progress Foundation will agree with me - broken laws, mistreatment, discrimination, and lack of compassion for those who need help most should not be a norm. Towards this end I hope better sense prevails and that when I conduct another tour I will find Progress Foundation to live up to those objectives they flaunt on their web site and other reading material. May Saint Francis of Assisi help us all!

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