The Safe Sleeping Village at Civic Center opened Monday, and we have a few reports on its first three days of operations.
The so-called Safe Sleeping Village is now established in the Civic Center lot between the Asian Art Museum and the public library’s Main Branch building, after a May 4 lawsuit from UC Hastings over the Tenderloin’s COVID-19 squalor forced a neighborhood cleanup plan out of Mayor Breed, which still drew angry denunciations from Hastings. We now have some reports from on the ground at the city-sanctioned camp, where 50 tents are spaced six feet apart. It’s still horrifying and dystopian like the Las Vegas parking lot encampment whose images went viral at the end of March, but not as horrifying and dystopian as the Moscone Center shelter that created another uproar a week later. You can judge for yourself how much an improvement the new arrangement constitutes, by checking out this “Before” picture from Hoodline’s Carrie Sisto, and the “After” image from 48 Hills below.
First sanctioned tent city opens in SF:— 48 Hills (@48hills) May 14, 2020
'Better than nothing, but a flimsy bandaid.' https://t.co/LbslFUQsfy
48 Hills spoke to a resident of the newly christened Safe Sleeping Village, equipped with seven portable toilets, and a few handwashing stations. As you can imagine, this person experiencing homelessness found it a marginal improvement, but wondered when the initially promised hotel rooms would be offered. “There’s enough room to put us in a hotel or SRO where they can keep us safe away from the virus. Why put us in a parking lot?,” asked the individual named Nick. “That SRO could change someone’s life,”
The DPW is ultimately responsible for the site, but a lengthy Mother Jones piece explains that an activist group called Urban Alchemy is doing much of the maintenance and outreach. “We’re like the concierge: We try to act like we’re real hotel staff—the same ones you would get at a four-star,” Urban Alchemy CEO Lena Miller told Mother Jones.
The TL is still gravely at risk, not much has changed since the announcement of the "Tenderloin plan." Unfortunately it's not actually a plan, more of an assessment, w/o a timeline, point person, process, clear goals, or much input at all from residents.https://t.co/bOxDVavjZ3— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) May 14, 2020
Mission Local notes that about “40 high-risk homeless individuals who would qualify for a hotel room” had been identified last week, and that “Since April 17, some 90 vulnerable homeless” have been moved to hotels. So there have been a smattering of eligible unhoused people put in hotels, but nowhere near as many as had been originally promoted.
We've been yelling about the dangerous conditions in the TL for weeks, and offering solutions---but we've done more than yell, I've written legislation, resolutions, press conferences, letters, op-eds etc. https://t.co/vIf86Sh2vt— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) May 14, 2020
The district’s supervisor Matt Haney has been complaining pretty doggedly on this situation for months, and as he points out in a subsequent tweet from the one above, “145 tents on March 5th in the TL, now there are 432.”
⚡️SUPPLIES NEEDED ⚡️— Coalition on Homelessness (@TheCoalitionSF) May 13, 2020
The Fulton Safe Sleeping Village is in need of 103 sleeping bags, pillows, and sleeping pads (yoga mat, Thermarest, etc.).
Contact Brian Edwards to arrange drop-offs and donations: [email protected] 415.967.3911
So it’s a solid improvement for the people placed in the new glorified encampment, but they represent a negligible number of the overall individuals affected. You may want to know what you can do to help this dismal situation, and if so, the Coalition on Homelessness is coordinating support activities regularly.