City Continues to Grapple with Homelessness

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Last fall, Randy Quesada, Communications and Community Relations Manager for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH), provided the View with a tour of the Central Waterfront Navigation Center, located at the end of 25th Street.  The facility opened last spring with a 64-bed capacity.  As of December 1, 54 were occupied.

The Center appears to be well maintained; the area directly around it is largely free of encampments. According to Quezada, the Central Waterfront Navigation Center has served 119 clients since it opened on May 31, 2017.  Patrons are largely referred from the Encampment Resolution and Homeless Outreach teams.  To date, 18 guests – roughly 15 percent of those assisted – have been relocated to permanent housing; one received a temporary placement; seven were evicted.  The remaining 40 people haven’t returned to the Navigation Center since they’ve been discharged. 

The Department was unable to provide information on length of stays due to limitations of its data tracking system.  Material reported in this article was obtained through a request to the City. There’s no consistent DHSH reporting on Navigation Center outcomes.  This despite the fact that in the fall of 2016 the Department’s director, Jeff Kositsky, stated that such information would be regularly published by mid-2017.

The City offers 368 beds in its Navigation Centers, which could increase to 433 cots after the 16th and Mission streets facility closes this fall and a planned South-of-Market center opens in the spring.  In addition, 1,200 shelter beds are available. Roughly 4,000 people live on the streets.

At the end of last summer, Hummingbird Place, located at San Francisco General Hospital, opened, offering 15 beds for the mentally ill.  It’s lodged 43 people since August 31, 2017, in addition to almost 500 day-use clients. The average length of stay at the facility has been approximately two weeks.  It’s unclear whether or not DHSH is tracking individual’s outcomes after they’re discharged. 

According to Sam Dodge, a special assistant at the Department of Public Health who previously worked at DHSH, the City was pleased with encampment reductions in the Mission – from 180 to 50 tents – that resulted from the June 2017 opening of a Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness Avenue. Dodge explained that the facility provides resources associated with job readiness, rapid rehousing, drug treatment, shelters, homeward bound and other services.

Dogpatch Neighborhood Association president, Bruce Kin Huie, said his group has been working closely with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to alleviate encampments in the community.  DHSH staffer Emily Cohen told DNA, six months after the Central Waterfront Center opened, that it’d completed an assessment of the area within Islais Creek, Mariposa, Pennsylvania and the Bay.  Twenty-five tents were identified; individuals living there will be offered a placement in a Navigation Center or other safe place.  People who don’t accept a shelter offer will be removed by the San Francisco Police Department, presumably to other locations nearby, where they’ll likely re-setup camps.