They prefer to call it a “Behavioral Health Beds” facility, but a new shelter and drop-in site opened today at the former Salvation Army Community Center after a year of community pushback and pandemic delays.
Every new proposed new homeless shelter in this town is going to face some degree of opposition, though few drew as NIMBY’ed up a backlash as the 2019 Embarcadero Navigation Center affair. So when a homeless shelter was proposed at the Salvation Army Community Center at Valencia and 22nd Streets in late February 2020, the idea was not universally popular among the neighborhood’s residents. COVID and shelter-in-place would turn our worlds upside down a couple weeks later, and the issue promptly faded from the headlines.
But that shelter did just open today. The Chronicle reports that the Hummingbird Valencia treatment facility opened today, with 30 beds, 20 daytime drop-in spaces, a slew of services, and most urgently for its clients, “Food, clothing, access to showers, and laundry facilities."
These beds represent one more step toward meeting the City’s acute need for exits from the streets, emergency rooms & jail for unhoused people with behavioral health needs. The Hummingbird model is a proven concept that can make a real difference, & we need many more of them.— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) May 18, 2021
“Hummingbird Valencia is the result of our City and community partners coming together to provide a solution to the mental health crisis we see on our streets,” Mayor Breed said in a statement. “We need to pull together to make our City a more compassionate place where we take care of those in need and get them on a path out of homelessness. I’m grateful to Supervisor Mandelman for his support in bringing this facility to his district.”
(2/2) shared about the impact that programs like Hummingbird have made in their lives. By providing more safe and welcoming indoor spaces, we can transform lives and improve conditions for all in our communities.https://t.co/214ioUR0AQ— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) February 28, 2020
As evidenced by Mandelman’s tweets above, which are from more than a year ago, this thing took awhile to open. It wasn’t so much community pushback delaying the opening, but instead COVID-19 construction complications, the expected unexpected cost overruns, and as the Chronicle reported in February, “several issues with the building — including a leaky roof, mold, and plumbing and electricity hookups that needed to be expanded.”
And while we call the structure a “former Salvation Army,” this Hummingbird facility is a collaboration between the Salvation Army, the SF DPH, PRC/Baker Places, and Tipping Point Community (who shelled out a $3 million grant to pay for unexpected construction costs).
It’s not the first Hummingbird facility in SF; there’s also one at SF General Hospital. Both are operating at smaller capacities because of social distancing requirements, but the new facility will pretty much double the number of beds and bedrooms the program provides.
Physically, this does not appear to be changing the neighborhood in any way, except for a new proliferation of makeshift signs along Valencia Street. So there does not appear to be any ‘there goes the neighborhood’ symptoms from the facility's opening. And as Mission Local quoted one neighbor as saying during community meetings, “Homeless people are already in your neighborhood. If people are going to be here, why not help them?”
Related: Valencia Street Salvation Army Poised to Become Homeless Shelter, But Residents Remain Split [SFist]
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist