Should we buy the Hammer Killer a home in SF?

San Francisco spends a fortune on “homeless services”. It’s worth asking how this money is being spent, and on whom. We got a sliver of insight into that today due to the opening of a new “Linkage Center” in the Tenderloin, which will provide an array of services – food, beverages, showers, help with finding housing – to the homeless.

Local TV station KTVU did a piece on the opening, featuring 65 year old Ivan Von Staich, who wasn’t happy with the services offered:

On the first morning the facility opened its doors, people filtered in and out. Ivan Von Staich said he’s frustrated because he’s ineligible for housing because technically he has friends he can stay with. “They need to get more housing support for these people and get them off the streets, that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Von Staich. “That’s why I went in there. I’m 65 years old, I’m a senior citizen, so, I’m trying to get some assistance.”

Who is Ivan Von Staich, and does San Francisco owe him a house? We might consider a few factors here: Did he grow up in SF? What circumstances caused him to be homeless? How did he contribute to society during his 65 years?

A little googling answers those questions. Von Staich’s name, age, and circumstances match that of the “Hammer Killer”, who in 1983 beat and shot a man to death while attempting to kill his wife. He also threatened the life of the judge who sentenced him.

San Quentin prison. Von Staich’s home for the past few years.

In 2012 the OC Register quoted Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong as saying:

[The crimes] Von Staich committed in Orange County were “carried out in a particularly heinous and cruel manner,” and that Von Staich continues to blame others for his actions, “undermining his alleged feelings of remorse and acceptance of full responsibility.”

Von Staich remained incarcerated until 2021, when he was released from San Quentin, and apparently drifted to where the services were – San Francisco.

Von Staich has done his time, apparently, and may no longer be a danger to society. But he has no connection with San Francisco, and made life choices that left him without savings or a career. Is it reasonable to ask our city to support him for the next 30 years? It’s hard to imagine why.

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