City Preparing to Close Pier 80 Homeless Shelter

San Francisco's temporary homeless shelter at Pier 80 just below Dogpatch is set to close July 1, when a two-month extension expires. 

The Pier 80 shelter opened Feb. 5 at the foot of Cesar Chavez Street near Third Street as an emergency shelter to house homeless people, including denizens of the Tent City that sprung up underneath the US-101 overpass near 13th and Division streets during the run-up to the Super Bowl.

The shelter was slated to close March 31 but was so popular the city extended the agreement between the Port, which owns the pier, and the Human Services Agency, one of the city departments tasked with figuring out what to do with the 3,500-plus people who are living on the streets.

Originally intended to house 150 sleeping mats inside the giant tent, 30 beds were added due to the demand. However, Mayor's Office of HOPE Director Sam Dodge told KQED in March that some 50 folks remain at the site, a number he reiterated to the Chronicle in late May.

So where will they go for the summer? The obvious conclusion is: back to the street, unless they are able to land a supportive housing unit.

[jump] Much controversy swirled around the homeless before the shelter’s opening. San Francisco officials were criticized for clearing homeless people out of parts of the city where Super Bowl 50 activities would be taking place in January and early February, which led to several “tent cities” popping up around town — the largest of which was under the U.S. Highway 101 overpass at the border of SoMa and the Mission District, which was cleared out after the big game left town.

Since then, other tent cities have sprung up throughout the Mission. (Luis Gongora, the 45-year old shot and killed by police in April, was a tent resident.)

In April, Mayor Ed Lee told staff at the Pier 80 shelter that the city plans to open up to 200 new supportive housing units for homeless residents, some of which would presumably go to people still living at Pier 80. San Francisco’s last count in 2015 pegged the number of homeless people in the city at more than 6,600, over half of whom are not in shelters. 

The Pier 80 site — which only a few years ago housed expensive racing yachts for billionaire Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup-winning Team Oracle USA — is unlike most other shelters in that there is no curfew, pets and couples are welcome, with all their belongings, and people can come and go at their leisure. But its isolated location and admission policy turned off many potential occupants.

A decidedly more capitalist future awaits Pier 80 after the shelter closes. The Port plans to lease the property to Pasha Automotive Services, a vehicle importer. Tesla also might use it to export its luxury electric cars.

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