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Crime rates near Navigation Centers have dropped, according to the city

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Three of the four open centers have seen crime rates drop

Two workers in hardhats and orange vests up on a cherry picker as they work on the roof inside the in-progress homeless center.
Crews working to affix industrial tarp over beams at the shelter site.
Photo by Brock Keeling

Crime around most of San Francisco’s Navigation Centers has dropped, according to city data.

That’s the word from KRON 4, who asked the city for crime reports for a quarter-mile radius of each of the operating sites, comparing the six months before the homeless transition centers opened to six months later.

Three of the four Navigation Centers saw crime rates dip:

  • Division Circle by 17 percent
  • Bayshore by 4 percent
  • Bryant Street by 11 percent

However, Central Waterfront, located in the Dogpatch, saw crime rise 60 percent. But according to KRON 4, “While that is a steep increase percentage-wise, it only represents 18 actual reported crimes in those six months.”

Unlike traditional homeless shelters, the city’s Navigation Centers, which first sprang up in March 2015, allow residents 24/7 access to temporary residences where they can bring their partners, their possessions, and even their pets.

Anti-Navigation Center group Safe Embarcadero for All (SEFA) has been vocal in its assertion that crime will rise in South Beach once its center opens. The nonprofit unsuccessfully sued the state of California, the SF Planning Commission, and the city’s Homelessness and Supportive Housing division on behalf of residents of nearby condo buildings.

SEFA specifically cited an August incident where a man attacked a female resident of the Watermark building at 501 Beale, located less than 1,000 feet from construction on the upcoming homeless center—right outside the building lobby. But the incident, caught on video, happened during the construction of the yet-to-open Navigation Center.

In response to the report, Wallace Lee, president of SEFA, chided the news report, asking, “Did you pick the 1/4-mile radius or did the city pick it for you? It turns out the city did a lot of cherry-picking before settling on the 1/4-mile radius. If you look at a 1/8-mile radius, for example, crime went up after the Bryant center went in.”

KRON 4 notes that some Navigation Center neighbors aren’t happy with the newfangled shelters, like George Cook, with Bryant Transmission Center, who claims that break-ins to his building have increased since the center went up.

But for every upset resident is a neighbor lauding the Navigation Centers.

Mc Allen, occasional Cubed writer who lives near the Central Waterfront Navigation Center, told KRON 4, “None of the fears that they had came to pass in the now two and a half years since it opened.”

And Michael Calore, a Mission District-based writer, said via Twitter in April: “As somebody who had a navigation center go in one block from my house in the Mission, I can tell you: They work. They provide good services that people need and want. They make the whole neighborhood more livable for everyone. Only good things happen.”