Amid mounting neighborhood opposition to D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s plan to establish a homeless Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness, Mayor Ed Lee paid a rare visit to the Cesar Chavez St. corridor yesterday to tour the proposed site.
As previously reported, Supervisor Ronen cut a deal last month with the Lennar Corporation to use the former McMillan Electric building at 1515 South Van Ness as a Navigation Center until construction begins on a 157-unit mixed-income housing development that will later occupy the site. Navigation Centers are residential facilities operated by the City that act as triage centers where homeless people can stay for up to 30 days while receiving guidance and support services.
Craig Weber from the Inner Mission Neighbors shared this account of the Mayor’s visit:
The mayor and dept. officials (Fire, Building, Permits, etc.) were all represented [Monday] morning to walk through the McMillan bldg. with Peter S., Lennar VP and Sup Ronen. A few neighbors and I got the alert of the visit from a vigilant neighbor. I missed the mayor, but I did speak to Ronen.
Ronen will hold a community meeting in the next week or two. She has not announced a date because she is awaiting the mayor’s determination if the navigation center is a go or no go.
I did ask Ronen the purpose of the community meeting. She stated that once the mayor has made his decision, the community meeting will address neighbors’ “concerns” and not the existence of a navigation center at the proposed site.
I explained to her the anger and frustration that our neighbors share as a result of the failure of city government to locate a permanent location for the navigation center. She appeared to be very troubled by the letters and emails that she received from us. I do believe that she accepts our concerns as real and very serious. I don’t think she perceives us as NIMBY’s or selfish people. She realizes that we have a strong voice in this district and our concerns cannot be ignored any longer.
Hillary stated that the navigation center will be a temporary solution for 8 or 9 months. She indicated that she has found a site for a permanent navigation center in an “industrial” location. It is very tentative and she was unprepared to tell me the location.
We must decide the next course of action, I believe that the mayor will determine the outcome. I was told that Lee had asked his dept. heads to put together an analysis of the feasibility to proceed with the navigation center. We should plan accordingly.
Inner Mission Neighbors
BTW – 4 police officers, DPW were on hand today to power wash the sidewalk and to clear away the tents an hour before the mayor arrived at the McMillian building. What happened to the 72 hour advance notice to vacate tent encampment?
UPDATE, April 19, 2017: San Francisco Chronicle reporters Matier & Ross today provide additional detail about the proposal to create a “pop-up” Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness:
Mayor Ed Lee is moving to turn a Mission District warehouse into a “pop-up” 120-bed homeless shelter.
“The goal is to try and ramp up and get as many people off the streets as possible,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, who is helping in the shelter setup and whose aggressive cleanups of tent camps have drawn the wrath of advocates for homeless people.
The Mission shelter would be in a warehouse at 1515 S. Van Ness Ave., and be open for seven or eight months starting in early June. The center is expected to cost about $2.5 million and be open around the clock, with some counseling and support services on site.
It would be a scaled-down version of the city’s two Navigation Centers, which have larger staffs to help homeless people find jobs and deal with issues such as substance abuse and mental problems. Like the Navigation Centers, the goal at the Mission shelter would be to get at least some homeless people into permanent housing.
UPDATE, April 19, 2017: MissionLocal reports on a meeting last Monday night that was organized by opponents of the proposed Navigation Center:
Several neighbors said they were worried that a homeless shelter would attract more homeless individuals to an area already impacted by tent encampments.
“My concern is if we accept these centers that we are attracting the homeless into our district and that to me is a problem,” said one attendee.
Neighbors discussed the effectiveness of the Navigation Center model. Unlike traditional shelters, Navigation Centers admit clients along with their significant others, pets and belongings. The model was originally designed to house the homeless for extended periods until they were connected to permanent housing.
One neighbor who attended Monday’s meeting said she works with housing the formerly homeless and attested to the the Navigation Center’s success in addressing the city’s homeless crisis.
“Navigation Centers are skill-building learning centers where folks can get off the street and start learning to live,” said the woman. “When centers are put in they are put in a planned place where encampments have started in order to start housing those people. It works because those folks are actually a community.”
But another Mission resident who said she lives a block away from the Navigation Center at 1950 Mission St. testified tearfully that the center’s presence in her neighborhood has had a drastic effect on her quality of life.
“I walk everyday with my daughter down the street,” she said. “I’ve been harassed, physically assaulted and my house has been broken into. I’m not a monster, I know when people are suffering, it’s horrible. But it’s also breaking up the communities where these centers are put. It’s a wound that festers and affects everybody.”
PHOTO: Telstar Logistics