A Better Place for Tents

Around the City during this health emergency, clusters of homeless people are sleeping outside in tents. This is not safe, healthy, or compassionate.

The Centers for Disease Control advise that tents need to be properly socially distanced and that people need to have nearby access to hand washing and other sanitation services to protect against the spread of COVID-19. This isn’t happening in encampments in our neighborhoods and that makes everyone less safe. Individual hotel rooms for homeless individuals should be the goal. However, we need to use every tool we have until that can happen. Safe Sleeping Sites will help get people who are sleeping unsafely into safer arrangements quickly. Right now there are empty parking lots around the City in neighborhoods where tent encampments are already occurring. We should be using these empty spaces to help keep people safe.

In D8, Supv. Mandelman is working to get City and Board of Education support to open up Everett Middle School’s (EMS) parking lot/playground (approx 50K sq feet) as a “safe sleeping site.” If ok’d, the site would be prioritized for about 30-40 people camping on sidewalks in the Castro/Dolores Park areas. It comes with sanitation, 24/7 staffing, meals, etc. It will quickly provide those sleeping on the streets with safe distancing and sanitation, and free up sidewalks for walking. EMS will not be permanent (closing once school is back in session.) However, as a pilot it would demonstrate whether a “regulated” off-street sleeping site could be successful long term in another location (for example, the properties that our Governor has offered.)

In D5, Supv. Preston is considering Kezar and other locations for a similar “safe sleeping site.”

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