Residents in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood have raised tens of thousands of dollars to oppose a 24-hour, 200 bed waterfront homeless "Navigation Center" in a 2.3 acre empty parking lot just south of the Bay Bridge. It would allow people to bring in partners and pets, and would work to connect them to local resources and services with the ultimate goal of finding permanent housing.
The center was approved earlier this month by Mayor London Breed in the hopes of a Summer opening, while the Port Commission is expected to consider the project in April.
Over the past 8 days, over $75,000 out of a $100,000 goal has been raised by 152 people opposed to the project. One donor contributed $10,000. The funds for "Safe Embarcadero" will be used for legal expenses to fight the homeless shelter.
Wallace Lee, the father of a two-year-old who lives two blocks from the proposed site, said he is helping to organize against the project out of concerns for his family’s safety. “It is increasingly a place where people are starting families,” he said. “There are a lot of strollers in the neighborhood that weren’t here when I moved in 2013.”
While little research has been done on the impact shelters have on communities, the campaign cites one study done in Vancouver that found a sharp increase in thefts. -The Guardian
Meanwhile, a competing GoFundMe has been established in support of the homeless shelter - which quickly received a $5,000 donation from GoFundMe itself, and has raised over
$40,000 $137,000 of its $50,000 now $150,000 goal.
Kelley Cutler, a human rights organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness, argues that the fears are rooted in stigma, and that they are not unique to San Francisco. “No matter where the location is, folks say this is not the right space. Not in our community. So they are going through that right now in the Embarcadero,” she said. -The Guardian
Homelessness is a crisis in our city and we need to act to get people off the streets and into housing. We're happy to demonstrate how these Nav Centers work and the benefits they've brought to other neighborhoods, but we can't afford unnecessary delays. https://t.co/WlqpQYahsd— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 27, 2019
"People want us to address the challenges on our streets and help our unsheltered residents into housing, and I am committed to doing the hard work to make that happen," Breed told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing that as soon as we put forward a solution to build a new shelter, people begin to threaten legal action."
"Parking lots are important, but places for people to live where they’re inside, in shelter, I think are that much more important, particularly on city-owned land," district representative Matt Haney told KPIX 5 earlier this month. "We have a lot of city-owned parking lots, I think this is a piece of land that can be used to address our most urgent problem as a city."
According to Haney, around half of the city's 3,500 homeless residents are in his district. According to THe Guardian, around 1,400 homeless people are waiting for temporary spots to open.