A meeting of neighbors in the Mission District joined by city leaders such as incoming supervisor Hillary Ronen, who replaces David Campos, and Jeff Kositsky, director of the new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, provided everyone in attendance an opportunity to say their piece on the issue, which made for plenty of baffling quotes. Mission Local had ears at the meeting, and it sounds like it was, as is typical of community forum/public comment time, pretty messy.
The meeting was of about 40 people in a cramped studio space near 15th and Mission, and it was specifically of a community group that formed around recent concerns relating to the nuns of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth who are trying to open a soup kitchen in the area. Facing eviction from their Tenderloin location, the nuns were given a property at 1930 Mission Street by entrepreneur Tony Robbins, but citing property values, neighboring residents have caused a stink, and don't want the soup kitchen to open.
Referencing that, “The last thing I need is another 150 people to try and fight [on] my way down 16th to get to the BART," one very charming woman said in objection to the soup kitchen. “Everyday it’s very frightening for people like me to get to work,” she added according to Mission Local, saying she is harassed for “being white and having a decent purse.”
Attendees of the meeting also cited Sunday's double homicide on South Van Ness and tied the tragedy to the rise in homeless people in the area. “One of the people who was killed was a long-time homeless individual,” Mission Local quotes Carl Peterson. “A lot of our meetings have been about feces and tents but it’s getting a lot more serious than that when people are dying so much and all in one area.”
As for more official remarks, Ronen called homelessness "her obsession," and Kositsky didn't provide much reassurance. “We have completed our work here in the Mission and I realize it may not look like that,” he reportedly said, citing 125 people that have been moved from the area with 101 of them entering shelters and receiving services. “Once we were done, the mayor made it clear [that] it’s the police department’s responsibility to keep those encampments from reforming,” he told the group according to Mission Local.
That proclamation didn't set well with at least one attendee, a board member at nearby Rainbow Grocery, which has grated against the nearby homeless encampments on Division Street for some time now. “It’s really disarming and concerning to me that your work here the Mission is done,” that board member said.
There were dissenting voices among the community group, too: According to Mission Local, one neighbor said “When I see all these tents I feel glad... they actually protect more people. It’s a safety mechanism.” At about the time that this speaker asked the group to "lift up" homeless people — “We contain people in poverty," she said inclusively — community members began to prematurely leave the meeting according to Mission Local.