Mayor to Create New Department; Sets Ambitious Goal of 8,000 People out of Homelessness; Calls on Philanthropic & Business Community to Help City Provide Compassionate Care & Housing
WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 04, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced a goal for his second term of helping at least 8,000 people out of homelessness forever through strategies that stabilize people’s lives through the City’s nationally recognized housing and services and building a system that ends a person’s homelessness before it becomes chronic. Mayor Lee is creating a new Department to help homeless residents permanently exit the streets and move into housing and services and has committed to maintaining and enhancing funding for homeless prevention and solutions of at least $250 million per year.
“Despite decades of best efforts, we haven’t eliminated homelessness, and as we house and serve thousands, they’re replaced by new thousands. And they all deserve our compassion and care,” said Mayor Lee. “Building on the work that came before us, we can solve street homelessness, but it will require cooperation like never before. With a goal of helping at least 8,000 people off our streets in the next four years, we can make a difference if we leverage the passion and energy from our service providers, advocates, national experts and our City departments and work together. All of the ingredients for success on ending homelessness for thousands of our fellow citizens are already here in the City of Saint Francis. Moving forward with progressive approaches on mental health, expanding the successful navigation center program, creating a Department to coordinate these and other efforts, with the nation’s best minds working with us, we can make homelessness rare, brief and one-time.”
Mayor Lee, who made the announcement at St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin, set a goal to move at least 8,000 people out of homelessness forever by the end of his second term by housing families, veterans, the long-term homeless, and through Homeward Bound and long-term care for the seriously mentally ill. The Mayor will create the Department, a new City agency with the budget and the mandate to solve street homelessness.
The new Department will bring together the multitude of homeless outreach, housing, shelter, and supportive services that exist across San Francisco government under one roof. Barbara Garcia, the director of Public Health, Trent Rhorer, the director of Human Services, and Sam Dodge, the Director of HOPE, who have all implemented some of the most forward-thinking, progressive homeless policies in America, are tasked to develop the new Department to with service providers, homeless advocates and national experts.
The Mayor also challenged the courts, the public defender, the District Attorney, and our health providers to come together next year for a task force to redesign the 5150 and conservatorship programs to better serve the intended populations while respecting their civil liberties.
Finally, the Mayor called for stepped-up enforcement for predatory drug dealing around Navigation Centers, shelters, and other homeless service locations. Drug dealers who loiter around places where the homeless congregate are preying on addicted people, selling them drugs they use to self-medicate, and contributing to serious health problems. The Mayor emphasized that the City is not criminalizing drug addiction, but instead better enforcing existing laws to protect the most vulnerable.
Since Mayor Lee’s creation of the nation’s first Navigation Center, more than 250 people have been successfully moved off the streets and into healthier settings in just nine months. Under the new Department, the City will be expanding the successful Navigation Center program that has made a difference by removing barriers to entry into the shelter system and pairing every Navigation Center client with a housing exit.
Mayor Lee hopes that existing philanthropic partners and business leaders – and any new funders interested in supporting the compassionate work – will participate as sustainable funders to help San Francisco end homelessness once and for all.
Homelessness is a growing problem, not just for San Francisco, but for major cities across the nation as well – Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu, Seattle and others – with State and Federal governments offering little assistance. Mayor Lee will join Mayors from major West Coast cities on Thursday, December 10th in Portland for a two-day West Coast Mayors Summit to discuss pressing issues affecting each of their cities: homelessness, housing, and climate action. Mayor Lee, joined by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, will convene to trade ideas, best practices and experiences about issues associated with homelessness, housing, and climate action, and will together work to generate actionable solutions. Mayors will also be joined by experts in each topic area – including U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro and Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness – to help inform the discussions. The goal of the West Coast Mayors Summit is to exchange information, develop a joint federal agenda, and identify action items on mutual issues.