Mayor Lee has introduced plans to convert a federally owned surface parking lot, so owned because it's behind a federal courthouse, into the city's largest supportive housing development for formerly homeless people. That would comprise two buildings with a total of 250 units of housing, as the Chronicle reports.
The parcel at 1068 Mission Street currently serves the Ninth District Court of Appeals at 7th and Mission. The city values the property at $35 million but is hoping for a federal transfer for just $1. That's been done for similar developments elsewhere, including Washington, DC. Under the 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Chronicle observes, federal properties are supposed to be considered for homeless services first before other uses are proposed.
The current proposal for the site calls for two large buildings, one 85 feet tall with 150 units of permanently supportive housing for formerly homeless single adults, and one 60-feet tall for homeless seniors over 62.
"We know what works to end homelessness,” Jeff Kositsky, director of SF's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, tells the paper. “These additional new units of permanent supportive housing will move us closer to making homelessness in San Francisco rare, brief and nonrecurring.”
To proceed, Mayor Lee is seeking approval from the Board of Supervisors. "This kind of opportunity does not come around often in San Francisco," Lee reportedly said, "and we need to work together to make sure this property is used to help those who need it most.”
Homelessness in San Francisco, judging by a loud, contentious public meeting held in the Mission District last night and attended by Mission Local, continues to be a fraught, divisive issue facing the city. Called by district supervisor Hillary Ronen, the meeting was — in theory — informational.
The city is, after all, set in its plans to use an empty industrial building at 26th and South Van Ness for 100 transitional beds, to be reserved for homeless people already living on the streets of the Mission. The shelter would be temporary, the Chronicle explains, because the building is slated to become 157 residential units — but the developer, Lennar Multifamily Communities, will allow the city to use it free of charge until construction starts next year.
But even this seemingly unobjectionable plan was met with strong resistance. "This Navigation Center is only going to create a bigger problem because it is not a solution, it is only a patch on the problem,” one opponent said. Many who were aligned against the center bore signs that read "Mission is not a dumping ground.” Why not build the shelter in the Marina, opponents asked?
Although the "against" camp was loud, Mission Local claims the "for" crowd had a majority at the meeting. Of the 300 homeless people already living in the Mission, about half are in tent encampments. Mohammed Nuru, director of Public Works, welcomed the center as "a great opportunity for us to move in a different direction." His department currently conducts sweeps of encampments. The temporary Navigation center will have six staffers and use a parking lot at 1515 South Van Ness as a designated space for clients to congregate.