Efforts Continue to Address Homelessness in New Ways

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Frustration over the City’s inability to effectively address homelessness, on the part of homeless advocates and Southside San Francisco residents tired of walking by encampments, remains high.  However, municipal efforts have helped thousands of people get off the streets over the past 15 years, and new attempts are emerging to identify possible ways to progress.

As reported in last month’s View – “What Constitutes a Neighbor:  Homeless on the Hill” – the City has shifted the location for a proposed Navigation Center from Warm Water Cove to the end of 25th Street, near the Muni yard.  The facility would serve as a shelter, but allow people to bring pets and partners, and store personal possessions.  Navigation Center clients receive priority to be provided with affordable housing.  The Port Commission will consider the new site at its July 12 meeting.

On July 1, the City launched the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, an attempt to significantly improve coordination of strategies to address homelessness.  The department will house a divergent array of programs previously dispersed among different agencies under one roof.  Jeff Kositsky, who led the nonprofit Community Housing Partnership for almost 10 years, will lead the new department, with a $165 million budget.

District 11 Supervisor Avalos has proposed a new homeless encampment policy, currently under review by the City Attorney, modeled after an ordinance passed in January in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Among other provisions, the law would require that sidewalks adjacent to homeless encampments be kept free from obstructions; cleaning of areas where homeless people are sleeping must occur after 7:00 a.m. and before 10 p.m.; and the City would have to provide a camp with more than 30 people in a 150-foot radius adequate bathroom and garbage services.

In addition, when a camp is relocated, the City would have to solicit input from the residents on planned relocation; inform residential and business neighbors, as well as camp residents, of impending plans; and identify permanent housing that doesn’t displace current residents, or provide temporary housing that doesn’t displace currently homeless people and a transition plan for permanent units within a reasonable time period.

“John’s goal isn’t to legalize tents. It’s to make sure we have a responsible, humane, and constitutional way for addressing encampments, and to minimize their impacts on neighborhoods while the City works on relocation,” said Jeremy Pollock, Avalos’ legislative assistant.

This month a collaboration of more than 70 media outlets – including the View – will launch the Homeless Media Project, pooling reporting, data analysis, photojournalism, video, websites and other resources to publish, broadcast and share a series of stories across all the outlets.