A Bold Approach to Homelessness

My Vision

With commitment and the right investments, we can create a San Francisco where no one is forced, relegated, or allowed to sleep on the streets, and where no one endures addiction or mental illness on the streets without supportive and effective services.

  • On any given night, 7,500 people are experiencing homelessness in the City, about half in shelters, jails, or hospitals, and the other half sleeping outside.
  • This is part of crisis seen all over urban America, particularly the West Coast.
  • 69% of surveyed homeless residents were living in the City when they became homeless. Only 10% came from outside the state.
  • Our homeless population is disproportionately African American, disproportionately impacted by mental and physical health issues, and disproportionately LGBTQ — particularly among young homeless people. (These are often kids who are escaping rejection or abuse at home, and San Francisco is their refuge. It’s one of the most heartbreaking parts of our homelessness crisis.)
  • Youth homelessness and family homelessness are decreasing but I won’t rest until they are gone. (Families often become homeless because of domestic violence, another heartbreaking part of this crisis.)
  • Considerably more homeless individuals are on the eastern edge of the City. District 6, which includes the South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, actually has almost as many homeless people as all of the other districts in the City combined.
  • We don’t just have the same 7,500 homeless people year after year — that would be a much easier situation to address. Our homeless services see over 20,000 different people each year.
  • When people fall into homelessness, they are more likely to use drugs and/or become depressed, more susceptible to mental and physical health risks, and far more likely to become victims of sexual violence.

My Plan

We cannot continue to accept tents on the sidewalk, encampments in our parks, or scattered, redundant programs that aren’t effective. We can’t continue to have our hospitals and jails serve as some of our largest shelters, nor our police officers and paramedics as our first line of homeless services. We can’t leave people on the street any longer.

  • Take dangerous street behavior seriously. We cannot continue acting like the status quo is okay or unavoidable. It is not okay.
  • Through increased outreach, resources, and oversight, end long-term tent encampments within one year of taking office.
  • Pass my conservatorship legislation locally which allows a court to appoint a guardian to care for someone who is gravely disabled and suffering from mental health issues, and work with Senator Scott Wiener to help pass his legislation in Sacramento so we can get those who cannot take care of themselves off the streets and into treatment.
  • Open Safe IV Injection facilities! We can provide safe places for IV drug users so they won’t be injecting in public, so they will be monitored to prevent overdoses, so the needles won’t end up on the sidewalk, and so we can credibly say: we will allow safe injection facilities, but shooting up on the streets is NOT acceptable.
  • Expand Street Medicine Teams to include more nurses and healthcare workers, so homeless individuals, particularly women, have access to critical healthcare services. These teams build trust, which is an important first step in helping people out of tents and into housing.
  • Extend hours at our shelters so they are accessible and open during the day for those who need them, not just as a place to sleep at night.
  • Ensure better enforcement and evaluations for 5150 and 5250 holds. These laws allow for a trained clinician or other professional to temporarily detain an individual who is a threat to themselves or others. People struggling with debilitating mental health issues should not be released simply because 72 hours has gone by; we need real comprehensive evaluations and follow-through to ensure the individuals are safe.
  • Expand the Pit Stop program, which provides portable, staffed bathrooms and safe needle disposal for people on the streets.
  • Reduce opioid overdoses, such as the three men who tragically passed away last month, by monitoring for the very dangerous and often-homemade drug fentanyl, and making the anti-overdose drug naloxone more readily available. 105 people died of opioid overdoses in the City in 2016, a number which would have been dramatically higher if not for naloxone.
  • Expand the Community Paramedicine program, which I helped reinstate during the ambulance crisis in 2014, so that ambulances, police, and emergency rooms are not the default response for people who just need a bed and warm meal.
Modular housing can be built faster and less expensively.
  • Write and pass a $50 million General Obligation bond to build modular homes for homeless people. Then pursue matching private funds, and build over 600 modular homes quickly and inexpensively, with local labor.
  • Create a supportive In-Law Unit/Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program where the City pays for the construction of ADU units (such as these) and manages the permitting process, in exchange for the property owner making the unit permanently available as affordable housing to “Moving On” tenants. The owner’s rent revenue can help repay the City’s costs and fund further ADU projects. This approach expands permanent housing exits for those in our shelters and SRO’s.
  • Get more out of each homeless dollar we spend by launching audits and potentially implementing pay for performance contracts of the dozens of entities providing City-funded homelessness services to ensure providers are achieving the goals we are paying for.
  • Implement and improve our unified data system to ensure the various agencies and nonprofits serving homeless people are accurately tracking their history and needs and allocating resources appropriately.
  • Continue, and if possible expand, the Homeward Bound program, which helps over 800 homeless people return home to their family and friends each year by providing bus tickets to their home city.
  • Build more Navigation Centers, which have more services and fewer restrictions than typical shelters — “partners, pets, and possessions” are allowed. Navigation Centers aren’t a permanent solution, but they’re an important component and we are not opening them quickly enough. We also need to provide flexibility in our Navigation Centers to allow individuals to stay longer while they wait for permanent housing.
  • Leverage Assemblymember Phil Ting’s legislation AB 932 to expedite construction of homeless shelters and AB 857 to secure state lands at virtually no cost. There is a parallel federal law making surplus federal property available for shelters or supportive housing, and we have a parcel the City is currently developing for senior and chronically homeless housing.
  • Build an LGBTQ Youth Services Shelter.
  • Create a host-home subsidized housing program for homeless LGBTQ youth, in which a young person lives in the home of a trained community member who has agreed to provide a room and support. Minneapolis has such a program. People with an extra room could help save a young person’s life.
  • Implement the remaining recommendations from the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force to improve unsafe conditions in Single Room Occupancy hotels, and improve the safety of LGBTQ seniors in City shelters by providing LGBTQ-targeted services and cultural competency training for shelter staff.
  • Dramatically expand “step up housing”, in which long-term supportive housing tenants with “Moving On” vouchers (similar to Section 8) move into apartments or SROs and thus free up spaces in master leased hotels. The City needs more exits from temporary shelters; shelters are only an intermediary, not the final outcome. Leasing blocks of apartments, entire buildings, and high-quality SROs is the quickest, most cost-effective strategy to get people out of shelters and into permanent housing, and I will make it a priority.
  • Build, acquire, and preserve more supportive housing.
  • Build more senior housing. No one should face housing uncertainty in their golden years.
  • Lease or buy more underutilized buildings to operate as supportive housing under our Master Lease program, in which the City contracts with nonprofits to manage affordable housing units. These acquisitions are the fastest, cheapest way to bring supportive units online.
  • Acquire more properties via our Small Sites Acquisition Program, to permanently protect rent-controlled and supportive housing units for renters and people in need.
  • Advocate with other mayors, state, and federal officials for more homelessness and supportive housing funds. The City is constantly backfilling shortages from the state and federal governments. I will work closely with private sector leaders to secure donations, and with Assemblymember Ting and our state delegation to pass AB 3171 to provide $1.5 billion in state funds for shelter and supportive housing.

ADDENDUM:

Understanding the Crisis

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London Breed

London Breed

45th Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco