A year after opening the city's first "Navigation Center" for the homeless at 16th and Mission Streets, a project heralded as a new approach to a persistent issue that would be replicated if successful, the Mayor's Office has announced the location of a second such center. The Civic Center Hotel, a notorious SRO located on 12th Street off Market, will provide 93 units of housing to homeless clients whom it will begin to accept in two months.
The Chronicle describes the hotel as "notoriously blighted and dangerous," observing that the police were summoned to the address 51 times in 2014 and recalling incidents like an elevator stabbing. Owned by the UA Local 38 Plumbers Union Pension Trust Fund, the Civic Center Hotel is slated for redevelopment in two years' time, when it will become 550 units of which 25 percent are to be affordable and 110 are to be part of a Community Housing Partnership for formerly homeless San Franciscans and current SRO residents. Currently, the 156-room hotel holds just 53 residents. When current residents are joined by 93 others, they too will have access to services offered at the center, while ten units will be used for administrative purposes.
Though an anonymous donation of $3 million fueled the original Navigation Center, this second effort is to be funded by city money. The mayor also announced today that San Francisco will add 200 units of permanent supportive housing at which Navigation Center residents can eventually land, with rent paid for by the city and federal vouchers. Meanwhile, Lee is perhaps investigating a Dogpatch site for a third navigation center.
The Navigation Center concept, just to catch you up, allows homeless people to arrive along with all their belongings, pets, and any significant others and camp-mates, in order to provide long-term shelter while each individual's various issues are assessed. Residents are fed daily and allowed to come and go as they please all while receiving supportive services with a view toward transitioning to permanent supportive housing.
Some registered displeasure at the new location, including District 6's Supervisor Kim, who seemed to seethe about a lack of input, “I support the Navigation Center model," she said, according to a release. "[No] one should be left to struggle to survive on the streets. But there must be a process to allow the public to weigh in. Just as we wouldn't locate a Navigation Center in Pacific Heights or West Portal or the Castro without public input, we shouldn't put a center in District 6 without that same opportunity."
Homelessness surpassed affordability as the number one concern among San Franciscans according to a February poll that perhaps relatedly revealed majority disapproval for Mayor Lee. Earlier this month, whe Lee's office said that another Homeless Navigation Center could take as long as half year to arrive, Supervisor David Campos pushed back, calling on the city to declare a "shelter crisis" to convert public land to shelters more quickly. Yesterday, the Examiner adds, Campos introduced legislation insisting that San Francisco open three more Navigation Centers, including one for young homeless people, in the next four months.
However, Mayor Lee has openly criticized Campos's proposals as rhetorical and pointless. Bolstering that point, the Chronicle observed that Campos's proposed sites appeared unlikely or even frivolous. He also neglected to propose sites within his own neighborhood, Bernal Heights. Of the new location, Campos, said "you know, I”ll take it. It goes to show my ordinance is already having an effect."