A San Francisco supervisor has declared a state of emergency on homelessness and another is urging the state of California to step in and help provide shelter for its neediest citizens.
City Supervisor David Campos declared the homeless state of emergency during a press conference in front of one the city’s homeless shelters, Tuesday morning, his office reported.
“For years people without homes have been pushed in to neighborhoods like the Mission and SOMA with no real plan to provide services or shelter.
“This failure to act has caused a public health emergency in San Francisco that has reached intolerable levels.”
Saying Mayor Ed Lee has failed to act on the crisis, Supervisor Campos called on the Board of Supervisors to authorize the state of emergency and start construction of additional homeless shelters, or Navigation Centers as the city calls them.
Campos wants to use the city’s emergency reserve funds to build the homeless shelters without costing residents additional money in taxes.
The move comes a week after city workers cleared the homeless tent city near Division Street that popped up when the government tried to clear the streets for Super Bowl 50.
“If we can afford 5 million for the Super Bowl, we can afford to address homelessness.”
Declaring the homeless state of emergency, something usually reserved for natural disasters like fires or floods, would allow the San Francisco city government to bypass the paperwork and red tape usually associated with housing projects.
In a similar move, San Francisco City Supervisor Jane Kim is asking the state of California to also declare a homeless state of emergency, her office reports.
“We have a growing and increasingly desperate homeless population in San Francisco. Change is absolutely needed and we needed it yesterday.
“We need the state to step up and help, because this is a statewide challenge that no single person, no single city, even one as generous and open-hearted as San Francisco, can solve.”
The California homeless state of emergency declaration would allow the state to use public property to build homeless shelters and invest in affordable housing resources.
Kim’s office says California is home to 21 percent of the nation’s homeless population and the transient problem has been made worse by the closure of mental health facilities and rising housing costs that have outgrown wages.
San Francisco already spends huge sums of money dealing with its enormous transient population — 30 percent of which became homeless outside the city — including $241 million this year alone.
A 2015 homeless census found that more than 7,500 people were living on the streets of San Francisco, including 853 children under the age of 18. Thirty percent of the adults censused self-identified as LGBTQ.
The Campos plan would allow for the immediate construction of several homeless shelters as well special shelters for alcoholics and intravenous drug users.
What do you think? Has San Francisco’s and California’s homeless problem become so big that they need to declare a state of emergency?
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)