Declaring a Shelter Crisis Could Yield Emergency Funds

Mayor London Breed is pushing for the state designation to receive another $27.7 million for homeless services.

Mayor London Breed speaks with a homeless man during a walking tour of the South of Market district along Mission Street on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco could have another $27.7 million to support homelessness services — should leaders formally consider the lack of sufficient shelters an emergency.

Mayor London Breed put forward a resolution to declare a shelter emergency to the state, allowing San Francisco to apply for special funds under an emergency aid program. The Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday sent the resolution to the full Board of Supervisors.

Breed and Supervisor Malia Cohen cited the failure of Proposition D — a June ballot measure they sponsored that would have generated another $70 million annually for homelessness services — as a reason to find new revenue sources in June. A “poison pill” component turned it into a competition against Proposition C, which ultimately passed and is expected to direct $146 million annually to affordable in Prop. D’s place.

One of those revenue sources comes from California’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program, which gives out one-time grants. The $27.7 million Breed is counting on must be used by June 2021 and would be managed by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

A rebalancing plan to adjust to the lack of Prop. D funds identified expanding shelter capacity, permanent affordable housing, navigation centers and doubling Homeward Bound as priorities.

A 2017 point-in-time count found 6,858 people as homeless on any given night. As of Thursday, 1,169 are on the waitlist to reserve a shelter bed.

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