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London Breed declares ‘shelter crisis’ in San Francisco

Mayor hopes to open 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020

homeless man sleeps on SF sidewalk
A man lies on the sidewalk beside a recyclable trash bin in San Francisco.
Photo by AP Photo/Ben Margot

In the wake of decades of homelessness that has yet to be sublimated, Mayor London Breed declared a shelter crisis in San Francisco, which she announced via a Medium article.

“We need immediate action to address the public emergency and help our unsheltered residents we see every day on our streets,” she writes. “That is why today I introduced legislation to declare a shelter crisis in San Francisco, which would allow the City to take more immediate action to help people off of the streets and into care and shelter.”

It’s all part of the mayor’s plan to open 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020 with the hope of clearing the nightly waitlist for shelter. She hopes to do this by cutting through the red tape that comes with building shelters (or anything, for that matter) in the city.

Her plan involves two ordinances: The first one aimed at streamlining the contracting and permitting process for new construction of homeless shelters, which would also remove planning-code barriers; and the second one would adopt AB 932, “which streamlines the building and planning code approval process for homeless shelters by implementing expedited approval procedures, which would reduce the process by a matter of months.”

Since taking office, Breed has helped open more than a couple hundreds shelter beds, as well as a newly opened Homeless Navigation Center in SoMa.

“In the last two months we have added 212 new beds on our way towards that goal, and 338 in total since I’ve taken office, and we are identifying sites for new shelters,” writes Breed. “Additionally, I have proposed spending the $181 million in discretionary funding from the recently announced windfall on affordable housing and homelessness programs, including the expansion of 300 new spaces in homeless shelters and Navigation Centers.”

The shelter crisis would last for five years, “or until there is a 30 percent reduction in homelessness as measured by the Point in Time Count,” San Francisco biennial survey of homeless residents.