San Francisco is set to enact some new plans to help the homeless population currently living in the city, with an ambitious goal to reduce the number of people on the streets by up to half.
According to the Chronicle, much of the city's "Five-Year Strategic Framework" revolves around centralizing a lot of the records that are checked at various homeless shelters and other facilities that provide services to homeless people. Essentially, instead of having to be interviewed repeatedly as they go from shelter to shelter, the records will be accessible via a central database, cutting down wait times, which in turn will allow shelters and services to be more widely accessible. Less bureaucracy and less friction leads to services being more effectively rendered to those who need it most.
Jeff Kositsky, head of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, told the Chron that this will allow the city to see what's worked and what hasn't, lending them some invaluable insight as to where best to direct their resources. He also said, "We have to move toward better coordination. We have to stop having so many waiting lists, uncoordinated efforts between nonprofits and agencies." While there are bits of this plan already in place for some health workers and counselors, the goal is to have it widely available and fully implemented by December 2018. Eventually, the system will be accessible "through schools, hospitals, drop-in centers, the HOT (Homeless Outreach) team and more," says Kositsky. Supposedly, similar moves towards greater coordination and centralization have already helped cities like Salt Lake City and Houston take care of their own homeless population.
Also included in the framework are plans to build another Navigation Center, the first of which was deemed a "relative success" after a second one opened in 2016. Other reports claimed otherwise, suggesting that the centers were by and large just placing homeless people onto busses heading out of town. Earlier this year, a new "homeless census" was released, showing that while numbers might be slightly down, quality of life for homeless people in San Francisco has taken seen a steady decline.
Kositsky expressed that while the department doesn't have exact numbers on the impact such changes will have, they remain optimistic about the the potential. He said, "The goal of our department is obviously a significant and sustained reduction in homelessness over the next five years, and we’re not going to at this time predict exactly what that’s going to be — we just don’t have very good data yet. But there are some things we believe we can do with specific populations that are going to lead to an overall reduction in homelessness that we haven’t see [sic] in the city for over 10 years."