Closing Time For a Homeless Shelter - June 8, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Closing Time For a Homeless Shelter

It's closing time for San Francisco's emergency homeless shelter at Pier 80, where many denizens of the former “Tent City” went when their shantytown was demolished following the Super Bowl.

But city officials say the shelter is closing on a high note.

Sam Dodge, up until recently Mayor Ed Lee's homeless czar, tells SF Weekly the city is trying to replicate the shelter — a converted storage shed left over from the America's Cup — just not at Pier 80.

“We're looking around for other good opportunities to expand shelter capacity,” says Dodge, who will become second-in-command at the city's new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Pier 80 is for now a good model to follow. More than 250 people went through the shelter and were placed into housing, Dodge claims.

“We've had some veterans. We've had some long-term homeless people who are a good fit with the navigation center,” he says. “We had some people on the county adults assistance program who are eligible for Care Not Cash housing. We've had a number of people take advantage of our homeward bound program and reconnect with friends and family.”

That would seem to underscore the need for these kinds of solutions in a city with more than half of the estimated 6,600 homeless residents living on the streets. But perhaps in a more central location.

The site faced some criticism by shelter occupants and homeless advocates for its isolated location at the foot of Cesar Chavez Street south of Dogpatch. The shelter was originally supposed to be open only through the wet El Nino-fueled winter, but its popularity led to a two-month extension.

Dodge said the remaining 50 or so shelter dwellers will be helped into more permanent housing by the July 1 closure date.

Some of that could be the more than 300 new units of supportive housing the city plans to add this year, Dodge said, although he told SFist most of the units will not be available until August and the fall.

Some city leaders think progress on homeless issues is too stagnant. Supervisor John Avalos has proposed several measures this year, most recently a charter amendment to create a 24-year Homeless Housing and Services Fund with an initial $11.5 million that could reach $47.75 million in subsequent years.

Meanwhile, it appears to be back to the streets for the Pier 80 residents who are waiting for shelter. Let's hope they saved their tents.