Mayor wants to put 2nd homeless center at Market S
Six months after pledging to open a second Navigation Center to help alleviate the city’s stubborn homeless problem, Mayor Ed Lee on Wednesday will announce its location: the Civic Center Hotel at 12th and Market streets.
The notoriously blighted and dangerous hotel is slated for redevelopment, but in the meantime, its project team has given Lee approval to house 93 homeless people there for roughly three years.
The nonprofit Community Housing Partnership will manage the new Navigation Center — a model that brings in entire encampments of homeless people and has far fewer rules than a traditional shelter — and expects it to be up and running by June 1. Unlike the first center, which was built with an anonymous $3 million donation, the second site will be paid for solely with city money.
On Wednesday, Lee will also announce that the city will add 200 units of permanent supportive housing to its stock to have more housing for Navigation Center residents to move on to. The rent on those units, which are vacant rooms in four single-room-occupancy hotels around the downtown core, will be paid for with a mix of federal housing vouchers and city money.
Possible 3rd site
Lee’s administration is also eyeing an undisclosed site in the Dogpatch neighborhood and may have a third Navigation Center operating there by the end of the year. Whether that’s enough to appease the majority of the Board of Supervisors, which is calling for the declaration of a “shelter crisis” and the opening of six new centers for the homeless in the next year, remains to be seen.
“It didn’t happen as fast as we wanted,” acknowledged Jason Elliott, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, who added that progress has been relatively swift, considering the first Navigation Center opened just last March.
“A year ago, we didn’t know what a Navigation Center was — it existed on paper,” he said. “Now it’s widely accepted nationally as the right way to get people off the streets.”
City officials in recent weeks have battled over Supervisor David Campos’ proposal to declare a “shelter crisis” to turn more quickly city property into homeless shelters, a plan that will be discussed in committee on Thursday and likely voted upon by the full board early next month.
On Tuesday, Campos introduced a separate piece of legislation to mandate more Navigation Centers, including a “wet house” where alcoholics can drink inside and a safe injection site where intravenous drug users can shoot up legally.
Lee has rejected Campos’ ideas, but the supervisor has eight votes, enough to override a potential mayoral veto. Every supervisor but Scott Wiener, Katy Tang and Mark Farrell has signed on.
Campos on Tuesday said that it was ironic that he’d been slammed by Lee for rushing the community input process for new centers when the plans for the Civic Center Hotel seem to have been hatched just weeks ago and involved no apparent community input.
“But you know, I”ll take it. It goes to show my ordinance is already having an effect,” Campos said. “I’m glad the mayor is feeling the pressure, because those of us in the neighborhoods have been feeling the pressure for quite sometime.”
Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes the Civic Center Hotel, said she supports the location as a new Navigation Center, but not without the chance for neighbors to weigh in first.
“Just as we wouldn’t locate a Navigation Center in Pacific Heights without public input, we shouldn’t put a center in District Six without that same opportunity,” she said.
Lee and Campos teamed up a year ago to open the city’s first Navigation Center on Mission Street near 16th Street. It is different from traditional homeless shelters in that it allows entire encampments of homeless people to move inside together and lets them bring their partners, pets and belongings.
It also allows people to come and go as they please, doesn’t require them to keep applying for the same bed every night, and pairs them with case managers to try to find a more permanent living situation.
In September, Lee said he would open a second and perhaps a third center within six to eight months, but the administration has had a hard time fulfilling the promise because of a lack of sites. A church in North Beach was sold at the last minute, and Caltrans has put up roadblocks for use of its land. Supervisors, some of whom support Campos’ proposal, have also criticized proposals to open of centers in their districts.
Campos this month submitted a list of potential city properties for new shelters to the city’s Real Estate Division, a list that unwittingly included a tiny median in a residential cul-de-sac and other unfeasible sites. It included no suggested sites in Bernal Heights, where Campos lives.
The Civic Center Hotel proved a solid option because it’s already built out and its reputat