Supervisor David Campos says homelessness in San Francisco has reached a state of emergency. He is blaming Mayor Ed Lee for not doing enough to alleviate the problem, while calling on his colleagues on the board to take immediate action to help those living on the streets.
Declaring a state of emergency — the kind of proclamation usually reserved for the aftermath of a natural disaster — would be unique for addressing homelessness. It would cut out much of the red tape that slows government-led projects. In Campos’ mind, it would mean the city could immediately build more of the popular Navigation Centers on municipal property.
Campos’ move could create controversy for several reasons, not the least of which is the plan to build a shelter for alcoholics and one for intravenous drug users. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, people would be able to drink and safely inject drugs at the respective sites.
[jump] During the Super Bowl, the city was subjected to much scorn after it was revealed that efforts would be taken to “clean” the streets of homeless during the football game festivities. Those efforts proved good and bad. They also led to a massive tent city sprouting up over four blocks on 13th and Division streets between Folsom and Bryant. After almost six weeks, Camp Lee was cleared just last week.
Critical of the mayor’s approach so far, Campos now wants to take matters into his own hands. In addition to the emergency declaration, the supervisor said in the next few weeks he plans to introduce legislation that would require Lee’s administration to build six more Navigation Centers within the next year, three of which would have to open in the next four months.
Campos wants this work done at no additional cost to the city. Part of his plan includes tweaking San Francisco’s $9 billion budget so the centers can be built without increasing expenses. The city notoriously spends heaps of money on dealing with homelessness — an all-time high of $241 million this fiscal year alone — yet the numbers of people living on the streets here have not changed in more than a decade.
“During the last 7 years I have fought for funding for homeless services, worked with community to open the first LGBT shelter in San Francisco, and worked with Bevan Dufty and others to open up the highly successful Navigation Center,” Campos said in a statement Monday. Dufty had been in charge of homelessness for the Mayor’s Office since 2012, but retired last year.
“We’ve been told that other districts would also be doing their part and Navigation Centers would soon be opening in other parts of the city, but over a year later we have yet to see this happen,” Campos added.
Local leaders also criticized the city’s spending on its Super Bowl festivities, which was nearly $5 million, and Campos made note of this in announcing his homeless goals Monday.
“If we can afford 5 million for the Super Bowl, we can afford to address homelessness,” he said. “We can’t wait any longer. San Franciscans are demanding that we act now and keep working until this crisis is solved and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”