Most of Mary Howe’s Monday evenings revolve around clean hypodermic needles — the ones used for injecting heroin and other intravenous drugs — and a grimy, well-worn stairwell in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district; this is the perch from which Howe’s Homeless Youth Alliance runs its needle exchange program, which like many of the people it serves, is a bit of a vagabond.
Skyrocketing rents saw Howe and the HYA lose their lease on office space in the neighborhood, which moved the needle exchange to a street corner — a sensible adjustment, seeing as the street is where most of its patrons live and conduct business. But leery (housed) neighbors raised a fuss.
Howe was run back indoors, but she hasn’t been run off the block: These days, anyone who stops by the stoop where Howe is sitting can go upstairs (to the offices of the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, a Summer of Love leftover currently hosting the HYA) for a fresh “rig,” free of charge.
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