This is SF’s $600 Million Plan to Cut Homelessness by 50%
By Joe Dworetzky Bay City News
In June 2022, a newly enacted city ordinance announced: “It shall be the policy of the City to offer to every person experiencing homelessness in San Francisco a safe place to sleep.”
Last Friday, less than a year later, the mayor announced a five-year strategic plan intended to comprehensively address homelessness in San Francisco. But if that plan is successfully implemented, the city policy may need to be restated to change the words “every person” to “every other person,” because the plan only proposes to reduce the unsheltered population by half.
The plan was prepared by the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), the city’s lead agency on issues of unsheltered homelessness, and is entitled “Home by the Bay, An Equity-Driven Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in San Francisco.”
The plan provides that by spending $607 million in new funding over five years, the city can cut unsheltered homelessness by 50 percent by the end of 2028. Thereafter, it will take $217 million a year to maintain those gains.
All of the plan’s spending is on top of the roughly $650 million the city is already spending annually on homelessness. The plan does not explain why it seemingly ignores the policy declared in last June’s ordinance. The Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance unanimously and it was signed into law by Mayor London Breed 10 days later.
There were 4,397 unsheltered individuals living on city streets at the last count. If the number were to be cut in half, the city would still have roughly 2,200 on the street at the end of the fifth year of the plan.
On Wednesday, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman called on the mayor to fund 2,000 new shelter beds in the next two years. The plan proposes adding 1,075 new shelter beds over the life of the plan, only 700 of which would be added in the first two years. Mandelman has repeatedly criticized HSH for not treating the problem of people living on the street with sufficient urgency.
A potential hot button is the plan’s proposal to add 3,250 units of permanent housing, three times more than the number of shelter beds to be added. HSH believes that without more permanent beds, individuals in shelter have no way to exit homelessness.
In its opinion, it would cost the city $1.45 billion over three years to bring the unsheltered count to zero, but even with the money and the time, HSH said it couldn’t actually do it because of difficulties in obtaining sites and building capacity.
In the end, it may not matter which agency is given the assignment. Even though HSH has touted the strategic plan as “bold but achievable,” the department admits that the “financial resources necessary to achieve these goals are not yet secured.”
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