SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A proposal to address San Francisco’s homelessness crisis was discussed and amended at a committee hearing Thursday.
The proposal, A Place For All, was first proposed by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods on the city’s board of supervisors. Mandelman’s proposal would make it city policy to offer people experiencing homelessness a safe place to sleep by requiring the department of homelessness and supportive housing to, within three months, create a plan including estimates of how many people would be expected to accept shelter and the cost of providing shelter to those people.
The proposal would also require the director of real estate to figure out “lots or facilities appropriate for use as shelters, tiny home communities, or safe sleeping sites, and to submit the findings of the survey” at the same time as the department’s plan.
The 2022 proposal is an expanded version of a 2020 proposal from the supervisor. Mandelman decried the humanitarian crisis on the streets.
“Research shows that people experiencing unsheltered homelessness suffer significantly higher mortality than those in shelter,” Mandelman stated at a news release. “The people living on our streets are getting sicker every day, preparing to die while one of the wealthiest cities in the country watches and tells them to wait for housing. As a result, we have an ever growing population of people who are living in completely unsafe conditions, and will require intensive supportive services for the rest of their lives. The waiting line for permanent housing cannot be the streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor spaces of our neighborhoods. This is inhumane, irrational, and it must end.”
Before the proposal goes to the full board of supervisors, however, the plan had to go before the public safety and neighborhood services committee, which consists of supervisors Gordon Mar (District 4 – Outer Sunset), Connie Chan (District 1 – Richmond, Golden Gate Park) and Catherine Stefani (District 2 – Marina, Pacific Heights).
After hours of debate, the committee decided to table the debate until the May 26 meeting, after amendments would expand the ordinance to both shelter and supportive housing, and would require city agencies to report back about all unhoused people, not just those who are interested.
These amendments were supported by Mar and Chan, but not Stefani, a co-sponsor of the ordinance.
There were 8,035 unhoused people in San Francisco, according to the 2019 point-in-time count.
The Coalition on Homelessness supported the change to supportive housing in addition to shelter; its position is that the homelessness crisis can’t be solved without it.
“Criminalization and displacement don’t end homelessness,” the group posted on Facebook. “HOUSING does.”
The group cited Martin v. Boise — a 2018 U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision stating cities must have enough beds for unhoused people in order to enforce anti-camping ordinances — in its opposition to A Place For All.
“Supervisor Mandleman has made it clear that he wants to expand shelter beds in order to forcibly remove people from public spaces,” the group also stated via Facebook. “‘Shelter for All’ policies provide a loophole in Martin v. Boise for local governments to criminalize and displace unsheltered residents, regardless of whether the shelter available is appropriate or accessible to those being swept.”
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Mandelman wasn’t thrilled with the amendments, telling KRON4, “it could have been worse.”
“The committee ended up accepting amendments that I did not support and that muddy up the intent, but we’re certainly in better shape than last year when we had no support on the board and no path to passage,” he said.