Every night in San Francisco 3,134 people sleep outside. This is not an accident, it is not a situation that is beyond our control. SF City government has institutionalized homeless encampments by sending unhoused residents to the streets from Navigation Centers, shelters, and hospitals; and by not building enough housing.
Currently, the city spends $29.3 million per year managing and responding to our encampment crisis. $20.6 million for police response to encampments and $8.7 million for Department of Public Works (DPW) in clean up costs.
We have to do better.
During the Recession, San Francisco cut funding for shelters, forcing some to close. When the recession ended, this money was not restored, leading to the extreme encampment crisis we have today.
For the same amount of money we currently spend responding to complaints and issues relating to existing encampments, we could shelter SF’s 3,134 unsheltered residents.
People become homeless for many different reasons, so we will have many different kinds of shelter, but all shelters should share the same fundamental attributes:
- residents can stay as long as they need to (as long as they follow the rules)
- residents will be safe while they are sleeping
- residents will have a safe place to leave their belongings
- residents will have access to bathroom and shower
- residents will have trash pickup
- residents will be able to stay at the shelter during the day.
Advocacy groups have already begun planning what some of the new shelters could look like:
Here is a slide deck created by the Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge (SFHC) describing a proposal to transition 1,000 people into 20-50 Transitional Villages for a cost of about $9 million.
Here is a proposal created by the non-profit I work for, Ca Renters Legal Advocacy & Education Fund, specifically describing a proposal to utilize the MTA garages to host Transitional Villages.
Here is a pamphlet summarizing the SOS Transitional Village neighborhood proposal.
Read more about how Seattle, San Jose and Oakland are setting up safe, secure spaces for people experiencing homelessness.
“Hey Sonja, what about permanent housing, isn't that the real solution to homelessness?”
Yes! I’m glad you asked. Click here to find out about the next step.