The San Francisco Department of Public Works has explored building sanctioned tiny home encampments in years past, and some developers have pitched similar ideas ideas. None of those concepts have ever materialized here in the city.
But a Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee hearing Thursday brought new consideration to tiny homes and city-sanctioned homeless encampments, according to the San Francisco Examiner. While there were no specific votes or proposals at the meeting, the supervisors are taking another look at city-sanctioned tent encampments and temporary tiny homes.
“We do not want them becoming part of our landscape in San Francisco,” said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “But I do believe that we are going to get to the place where we have the shelter capacity we need, and until we get there we may need to look at some of these options.”
The snail’s pace at which the city is currently adding beds and shelter was a contentious point at the hearing. Sup,. Hillary Ronen grilled Department of Homelessness director Jeff Kositsky, saying, “In the last two years that there have been 491 net new beds, less than 250 beds per year, that we are adding to the system. That is frankly not responding to the level of the crisis that we have on the streets.”
San Francisco —which as of the last point-in-time census had about 7,500 homeless, and currently has a shelter waiting list of more than a thousand people — would not be the first city to sanction homeless encampments.
Seattle has a handful of sanctioned tiny house encampments, technically called City-Permitted Villages. The city of Oakland has tried modular housing encampments, though some of its other sanctioned encampments have been disrupted by fires or had to be closed because of safety and infrastructure issues. San Jose has a sanctioned tent camp called Hope Village, though that space lost is temporary lease and will have to move at the end of March.
Still, San Jose officials are happy are pleased with how the encampment has worked out, and hopes to relocate the camp to another location. “We want to make sure that these simple, quick tent communities are allowed,” San Jose supervisor Dave Cortese told KPIX. “They don’t cost much and I think Hope Village proved they can work.”
These sanctioned homeless encampments have mixed, but generally encouraging results. There are certainly public safety issues at encampments, but these may be small compared to the public safety issues of status quo street homelessness, The Examiner notes that nearly 400 unhoused people have died on San Francisco streets since 2016.