Approximately 40 residents attended a Town Hall on homelessness in Dolores Park and surrounding areas. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and his team brought together representatives of all City departments that are working on this issue in our neighborhoods.
What we heard – the City is bringing more staffing and services to the Dolores Park area:
- The Park will have two full-time rangers from 6am to 10pm daily. And undercover and uniformed SFPD officers are stationed around Dolores Park stairs and sidewalks to prevent gang presence in the Park
- Rec & Park has increased other services in the park including restroom monitors at high usage times to ensure cleanliness and order
- After the Park closes at 10pm, the Rangers and SFPD sweep the Park three times during the night to enforce the ban on overnight camping in the Park
- DPW and SFPD is actively moving campers off the street medians. DPW is further locking down street lighting access boxes – used by homeless individuals to charge cell phones
- Healthy Streets Operations Center is taking a person-centered approach to the most disruptive homeless individuals in our area. The goal is to assess these individuals and get them to key services, especially mental health and substance use treatment
- Teams are using “hot spot” maps based on 311 and other reports to bring proactive health, street cleaning, and other services. The Dolores Park/Castro areas now average 700 monthly requests for services. (So keep opening those 311 cases!! And to avoid phone hold time, download & use the mobile 311 app.)
What the City representatives heard: despite the additional resources – residents expressed growing concern, anger, and frustration are growing. Many residents are fearful – for their children, for themselves – owing to the aggressive and crazy behavior they see among homeless individuals on their sidewalks. City officials are seeing a new type of homelessness: come and go (vs. permanent encampment). Getting these individuals into services requires a different approach than simply moving people and their belongings. And homelessness is trending upward. Per Emily Cohen, the Mayor’s Advisor on Homelessness, while 50 homeless individuals are housed each week, approximately 100 to 150 newly homeless show up each week.
DHIC has been working for one year with other neighborhood associations around Dolores Park to give feedback and recommendations to the City. Supervisor Mandelman facilitates a monthly meeting for that purpose. With the increased services and resources, we expect to see faster and more effective action on the 311 issues, on daily safety, and on the recurring “come and go” homeless camps and belongings. This current approach is a holding action. We need more effective policy, strategy, and resources to handle those who are mentally ill and substance abusers and those who openly use drugs on our streets adjacent to schools. We need to balance the needs of the homeless against the needs of our neighbors, families, students, and visitors. We welcome your opinions, ideas, and comments on this and other neighborhood issues. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org