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Proposed Embarcadero Waterfront Homeless Shelter Not A Treat For San Francisco Residents

The Port Commission of San Francisco is set to approve a prime Embarcadero waterfront location for what will be the largest homeless shelter in the city.

The facility, called a “SAFE Navigation Center,” will house at least 200 people and provide comprehensive social services for the area’s homeless, including care for pets and access to storage. “SAFE” stands for “Shelter Access For Everyone.” It will be located at Seawall Lot 330, directly across from piers 30/32, and is estimated to be open for four years.

The area around the proposed shelter site is densely residential, consists mainly of high-end apartment homes in the Rincon Hill and South Beach neighborhoods, ranging from $750,000 to millions of dollars.

San Francisco has an average daily homeless population of 7,500, according to the city’s Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing, and an estimated 4,300 sleep on the streets each night. Democratic Mayor London Breed announced her plan last October to add 1000 beds for the city’s homeless by the end of 2020.

She unveiled the proposed shelter site on Mar 4. “To help those living on our streets, we need to meet people with shelters and services where they are,” Breed said in a statement. “The waterfront has a number of challenges around homelessness.” Seawall Lot 330 is owned by the Port of San Francisco, so the Port Commission’s approval is required.

To speed up the project, Breed introduced legislation in January declaring a shelter crisis for San Francisco, along with ordinances to expedite developmental red tape. Eight days after the announcement, residents were invited to share concerns at the Port Commission’s scheduled meeting March 12.

The public comments were overwhelming negative, with many residents displaying visible emotion during speeches, which were limited to two minutes each. Most of their issues related to increased crime, drugs, loitering and garbage.

The commissioners, appointed by the mayor, are scheduled to vote on the proposal April 23. It is expected to be approved. “The commission is likely to support the mayor’s proposal, but has a strong track record of engaging with the community,” said Elaine Forbes, the port’s executive director.

“We’ve seen more homeless folks on the waterfront, sleeping inside of pier sheds that are vacant. More people are showing signs of needing care and shelter. We, like the rest of the city, have been experiencing more homelessness issues, and we want to find real solutions to address this humanitarian crisis.”

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