The ‘Pier 94 Backlands’ is currently home to 118 people still waiting for permanent housing placement, and while the SF Department of Homelessness wants to close it ASAP, supervisors are saying place the residents first.
The pandemic-era Bayview RV triage center, now known as Pier 94 Backlands, was proposed in April 2020 and appears to have been a pretty good success. The state actually provided nearly 100 RVs, equipped with showers and restrooms, and residents there have been receiving two meals a day. There are 118 people there now, and 37 people have been moved from that site, so far, into permanent housing. But the SF Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHS) is moving forward with plans to close the site, though the Chronicle reports that on Tuesday the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to demand they keep the site operating.
“I specifically asked the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing if we could guarantee enough shelter for everyone in the RVs, and the answer was no,” the district’s supervisor Shamann Walton said Tuesday before the vote. “This action will be a travesty, and will mean that over 100 people, mostly Black, will be put on the street with no alternative placement.”
Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who’s trying to get a similar park in her own District 7, said, “It is inconceivable to me that something that we already have, we would let go. We should not just preserve the program, we should be expanding it.”
Mind you, the supervisors merely passed “resolution urging” that the site remain operating, a resolution which has no inherent legislative teeth. And the DHS, which reports directly to Mayor London Breed, does not sound moved by the supervisors’ vote, and points out that this land belongs to the Port of San Francisco and is intended for other purposes.
“The Port has more than lived up to their end of the deal,” DHS spokesperson Emily Cohen tells the Chronicle. “We entered into this agreement fully knowing that this was a temporary COVID program and that we would need to wind it down.”
Per the Chronicle, 59 of the remaining residents are “awaiting placement,” and DHS says they are “in the process of assessing the remaining guests.”
The Port of San Francisco and the DHS seem pretty dug in that they want to close the facility, possibly for budgetary reasons. But the wild card here is the new Department of Homelessness Oversight Commission, whose creation Breed opposed — and one of her picks for it had to withdraw over a scandal. So a commission on which Breed should have had a 4-3 advantage of her four appointees compared to the supervisors' three appointees, is currently a 3-3 tie.
That could create a political wedge to closing the site. But as it stands now, Mission Local reports the site is slated to close December 31.
Image: Kojiro Inui via Unsplash