Should the Homeless be Kicked Out of SF’s Embarcadero?


I would guess that San Francisco mayor Ed Lee probably didn’t sleep much the night before he made this announcement:

“They are going to have to leave.”

This was directed to the city’s homeless population that have settled in the Embarcadero area.

The reason for kicking them out?

The Embarcadero, and specifically Justin Herman Plaza, is where Super Bowl City will be located. In the days leading up to the Superbowl, the area is expected to host fleets of media crews, numerous parties, and approximately one million visitors. In Lee’s view, having the homeless in the area could very well disrupt the activities.

So where are they supposed to go?

The mayor has presented two options – the Navigation Center, a homeless services center that recently opened in the Mission District, or to one of 500 recently rehabilitated single room occupancy hotel units that will soon be available in the city’s downtown.

With this announcement, Lee has touched off a firestorm over the city’s long standing debate around homelessness. (Thus my guess about the lack of sleep the night before.)

You have homeless advocates like Jennifer Friedenbach, the director of the Coalition on Homelessness, who have blasted Lee’s proposal. Friedenbach believes the Navigation Center is already operating at capacity and so isn’t equipped to handle a surge of new cases. Plus, those 500 units are likely to be taken up well before the Superbowl. She also points out that the parties, being free and open to the public, mean that really anyone can attend.

On the other side you have homeless hawks, such as San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius. He has called Lee’s proposal “a breath of fresh air.” He scoffs at the notion, proposed by some advocates, of providing mass housing for the city’s homeless because he believes San Francisco is a magnet for homeless, so no matter how many you house there will always be more coming.

It’s safe to expect a passionate debate – to put it lightly – on homelessless in San Francisco. One would hope that as a result a series of equitable and effective policies will arise. So what are your thoughts about Mayor Lee’s proposal? Should the homeless residents camped along the embarcadero be relocated in advance of the Superbowl? Vote and comment here.

Some quick stats: according to the most recent count there are a little over 7,000 homeless people in the San Francisco. The city provided some form of housing to 3,000 homeless people over the last two years. The city spends between $169-230 million a year in homelessness services.


Send Embarcadero Homeless To Navigation Center, Single Room Occupancies
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has declared that the homeless population residing in the Embarcadero have to leave before the city hosts 2016 Superbowl festivities. He has offered the recently opened Navigation Center as one housing option, as well as opening up 500 single room occupancy units. He wants to do this to prevent any possible disruption of the event. Homeless advocates have blasted his proposal, saying that the Navigation Center is already operating at capacity and that the 500 units will likely already be taken. Supporters of the idea say that it’s a realistic approach, however unpopular, and that since San Francisco already pours at least $163 million into homeless services, more money for more programs is unlikely to be effective. What do you think of the proposal? Is this the right approach or do you believe some alternative would be better? Vote and comment here.


Relevant Articles:

SF Gate: SF Mayor: Homeless ‘have to leave the street’ for Super Bowl

SF Gate: SF takes new direction on homeless camps with 1-stop aid center

SF Gate: Lee must make enemies if he wants to combat homelessness

San Francisco Chronicle: Combatting homelessness requires making tough choices

San Francisco Chronicle: Nothing like a Super Bowl to fix SF’s homeless problem

48 Hills: Stuck on dumb: A failure of SF homelessness policy

48 Hills: Dear C.W. Nevius: Please stop attacking homeless people

San Francisco Chronicle: Mayor Lee’s Super Bowl homeless plan is a breath of fresh air

San Francisco Chronicle: Amid rising disgust, SF scrambles to flush stench from stench

San Francisco Local Homeless Coordinating Board

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