DHIC & Neighborhood Groups Acting to Address Homelessness in District 8

Since last year the homeless situation has escalated in our broader neighborhood. In August homeless people started camping at Dolores Park and in adjacent areas. DHIC and other neighborhood leaders from the Castro Business District, Eureka Valley, Dolores Heights, Duboce Triangle, and Ford Street area neighborhoods contacted our Supervisor, Rafael Mandelman. In September 2018 he engaged City agencies to help address the influx of homeless people in the northern part of District 8 — with monthly meetings to discuss and report on progress. The City has increased services – public safety, cleaning, public health, and 311 responses. Despite these efforts, the homeless situation continues to be unacceptable. The visible homeless people are not just homeless; most are mentally ill and/or on drugs. They need treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse — not just shelter beds or navigation centers.

Hearing on city policies to reduce homelessness on February 28

On Feb. 28, 2019 the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee (chaired by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and vice-chaired by Supervisor Catherine Stefani) held a hearing on city policies to reduce homelessness.

The meeting was packed and moved to the full Board of Supervisors ‘chambers. Our neighborhoods were well-represented with 15-20 people.

Seven supervisors heard and discussed the reports from the City. Some supervisors expressed concern and frustration with the head of the homelessness department, Jeff Kositsky.

Residents who gave public comment were clear: don’t make excuses – do more to address homelessness in all districts and pilot ideas that are working in SF or other cities.

Reports from DHIC attendees:

Meeting highlights from DHIC Board member Hans Kolbe: My impression was that Mr. Kositsky’s report was often misleading, very lengthy, sometimes condescending, and did not represent the urgency/emergency of the issue. He basically said we are doing everything we can, but we cannot do anything one excuse after the other.

Every suggested building for navigation centers was either too small, too large, too expensive, or in the wrong location. Mr. Kositsky reported that 150 new people become homeless every week in SF, while 50 are taken off the street i.e. net 100. (85% of newly homeless are residents of SF). Thats 1,200 homeless. He plans to add 800 Navigation Center beds during 2019. In the best case, we are falling behind 400 more homeless than we can shelter.

Comment by DHIC Chair, Carolyn Kenady, to the supervisors: We appreciate the City workers and services who clean up our neighborhood, deal with safety issues, and offer services to the homeless. It’s not addressing the root cause. The homeless in D8 are at rock-bottom – mentally ill and/or substance abusers. They need treatment, not just shelter beds or navigation centers. We urge our LEADERS to get the data and analyze the best practice for addressing their needs. Sponsor neighborhood-specific experiments, track results, and push for effective strategies to address the on-street homeless population.

Many neighborhood voices were missing from the conversation. Supervisor Mandelman’s staff promised a follow-up hearing in the future. DHIC will keep neighbors posted. For more information, contact board members or email info@doloresheights.org

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