A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee is expected to vote Monday to move forward with the proposed site for the city's third homeless Navigation Center near the Central Waterfront in the Dogpatch neighborhood.
Navigation Centers are nontraditional homeless shelters designed to serve as "one-stop shops" for the homeless population. They place fewer restrictions on residents -- allowing them to come and go as they please and bring their partners and pets along -- while offering temporary shelter and connecting clients to services and permanent housing.
In June, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation directing the city's new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to open six Navigation Centers within two years. The first center opened in the Mission District in March 2015, and the second opened in the Civic Center Hotel in June. The proposed site of the third center is on 25th Street in Dogpatch.
The site was agreed upon after months of conversations among city officials, community stakeholders and the Port of San Francisco, which owns the land where the center is slated to be built. The community rejected the initial site proposed by city officials on 24th Street at Warm Water Cove before putting up the 25th Street site as an alternative.
Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Dogpatch neighborhood, said there are still some who oppose the Navigation Center, "but the majority of the folks are in agreement that we've got a crisis when it comes to homelessness. We've developed a model that's worked in the Mission, and we're going to pilot the program in the Central Waterfront."
Sam Dodge, the deputy director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the Mission District Navigation Center has helped more than 700 individuals leave homelessness, and they plan to use what they've learned there and at the Civic Center Hotel to build on that success.
"We recognize that the Navigation Center's low threshold, welcoming environment and radical hospitality really help people leave long periods of homelessness and street encampments and come in and really be able to take advantage of permanent supportive housing and other interventions that we have in our system," Dodge said.
The proposed site is located in an industrial zoning area, so the Board of Supervisors will have to amend the Planning Code to allow for the temporary shelter to be built. Cohen said the fact that the site is not a residential area makes it a perfect spot for a Navigation Center.
"The Central Waterfront area has clusters of homeless encampments already, and the Navigation Center would add to the opportunities for people to move from the streets to a more stable environment," Cohen said.
If the Land Use and Transportation Committee approves the zoning amendment, it could clear the full board by the end of October. If that happens, Dodge said the Dogpatch Navigation Center should be ready to open in February 2017.