City Adds Shelter Beds

in by

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronan is pushing to open a 100-plus bed Navigation Center near the corner of South Van Ness Avenue and Cesar Chavez Street this month. At two public meetings to discuss the facility, Mission District residents expressed concerns that it’d attract more homeless people to the neighborhood, that the community already had more than its fair share of shelters, and raised questions about security. 

“I oppose building a Navigation Center in the Mission neighborhood.  Enough is enough,” tweeted San Francisco realtor Mark W.

“It’s not that I am against the Navigation Center, it’s that we are overwhelmed, everybody, the police, everyone who has to deal with this problem everyday gets overwhelmed,” said Tim, a 25-year Mission resident.  “I want to help, and we’re doing our part, but what is Bernal doing, what is Portola doing…let’s share in this problem.”

Others support development of the 1515 South Van Ness Avenue center.  Community activist and comedian Nato Green talked about walking his two young daughters through the neighborhood, where he’d lived all his life, and their asking, “Why aren’t they giving these people the services they need right now?”

City officials assured residents that there’d be six staff people on site 24 hours a day; people wouldn’t be released to the street without a stable situation; and that this Navigation Center would be even more temporary than the three others.   Lennar Multifamily Communities, the company developing the site, plans to break ground during the first quarter of 2018.

Jeff Kositsky, Department of Homelessness director, has consistently called for an increase in the number of shelters beds.  New York City has 95 shelter beds for every 100 homeless individuals; in San Francisco there’s 35 for every 100.  Since 2004, the City has lost 1,000 shelter beds and three 24-hour resource centers. 

Since shortly before Kositsky’s appointment last spring, San Francisco has increased its shelter capacity by more than 300 beds.  The 1950 Mission Street Navigation Center offers 95 beds at an annual cost of $2.6 million.  The Civic Center Hotel Navigation Center, a single-room occupancy facility, provides 93 rooms, with an annual budget of $3 million. The Dogpatch Center, slated to begin accepting clients this month, provides 70 overnight opportunities. In addition, the City recently announced the opening of The National Hotel, at 1139 Market Street, which’ll be home to 100 formerly chronically homeless individuals. 

Kositsky plans to issue a comprehensive plan to address homelessness this month, with public meetings held to discuss it shortly thereafter.