Supervisor Jane Kim yesterday introduced a measure that would set terms by which the city engages with tent encampments and the homeless residents who call them home. This, reports the Chronicle, is the third such measure to be put forth in recent days by a member of the Board as the November election seems to be ever faster approaching.
Kim's measure, which the board will likely vote on before their August break, would require city officials give seven days notice before clearing out an encampment — a process which often leads to the temporary confiscation of all the residents' belongings. The city would also then be required to offer housing services for a minimum of 90 days to those displaced, and create housing plans for the individuals. Although, of course, people would not be forced to accept the housing or the plans.
This proposal comes at a time when Kim is engaged in a heated political battle with Supervisor Scott Wiener for a state senate seat. As the Examiner notes, homelessness is ranked as the number one issue by many San Francisco voters.
"This is sound policy, consistent with the fact that permanent exits are the solution to homelessness and clearing encampments alone will not end homelessness in our city,” Kim told the Ex. “I hope to work with my colleagues to make this a measure that is effective policy that will allow us the flexibility to modify it if better practices arise.”
The backdrop of Kim's measure is two battling homelessness proposals that, as things currently stand, may both be on the ballot this November. Supervisor Mark Farrell's ballot measure, which is supported by Supervisor Scott Wiener, would ban encampments altogether and only require the city give 24 hours notice before clearing camps. Supervisor Aaron Peskin, on the other hand, has a measure he's seeking to place on the November ballot requiring at least 72 hours notice before a camp is cleared.
Although he hasn't explicitly stated so, the head of the City’s new Homeless Department seems to be opposed to all three of the measures. “One of the things that you all could do to help me is to actually not draw me into political conversations about a policy-related issue,” the Ex quotes Jeff Kositsky as telling Supervisors.
It looks like it may be a little too late for that.
Update: Ivy Lee, Supervisor Kim's Chief of Staff, reached out to SFist and said that Kim's measure was written with Kositsky in mind. "First thing we did when we started drafting this legislation was to request guidance on best practices from Jeff Kositsky, the new Director of the Dept of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH)," wrote Lee. "Our question was: what is the best practice, what is the best policy that we can put into place that would not tie your department’s hands if better practices arise in the future?"
She later added that "we want to make sure that the new Dept’s resources and focus is not tied up with just addressing encampments. We’re still focused on a Housing First model of addressing homelessness and our policy and procedures when it comes to encampments should acknowledge that fact."