The city wants to build a 100-bed homeless shelter next to Mother Brown's Kitchen (2111 Jennings Street), a Bayview drop-in center that feeds about 300 a night, but residents and business owners have already filed a lawsuit to stop the project.
The group is accusing the city of trying to "sneak" through the shelter, the attorney representing them tells the Chronicle, without allowing for a proper public-comment process. This past November, the Board of Supervisors approved a $978,000 forgivable loan from the state for a shelter to go in at that specific location.
One business owner, David Eisenberg of Micro-Tracers Inc. at 1370 Van Dyke Avenue, says the shelter's warehouse location — next to where they manufacture analytical tracers — will expose people to dangerous chemicals: "I don't want anyone living, sleeping next door to where I'm venting these things." The proposed shelter is also close to Yosemite Slough, the polluted channel between Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point Shipyard, which needs a $15 million cleanup.
Other residents say the neighborhood is overburdened with poverty and accuse the city of trying to attract even more homeless people.
As SFist previously reported, the homeless count in the Bayview has shot up 159%, from 444 in 2009 to 1,151 in 2011, based on San Francisco's biennial census.
Executive director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency Trent Rhorer cites that data, saying, "They're arguing that we're going to bring homeless folks to the neighborhood, but they're already there."
Rhorer adds: "The only thing we don't really have (in the Bayview) is a place for folks to stay for 24 hours." Currently, the Providence Baptist Church runs an emergency shelter with mats on the floor that can temporarily house 125 homeless people.
The woman who runs Mother Brown's, Gwendolyn Westbrook, says she originally proposed that a shelter go in next door because she sees the need.
After dinner is served, Mother Brown's hosts a drop-in center with a TV and enough plastic lawn chairs to seat 50. Most nights, homeless people take shelter there, but they're not technically supposed to sleep and the TV and lights stay on. Westbrook says her clients have swollen legs from sitting through the night. After breakfast, everyone must leave unless there's a life-skills or employment class being offered.
Mother Brown's and the proposed shelter would likely share services, but not necessarily be managed by the same agency. Rhorer says it will be determined by a bidding process.
As for the lawsuit, hearings are set to start on August 28 in Superior Court.