San Francisco’s Tenderloin District Pleads for ‘Actual Change’ as Homelessness Encampments Triple Since Pandemic

© Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters, Palm Springs Desert Sun via Imagn

San Francisco and Oakland have both committed a lot of recourses so far to helping their homeless populations but SF District Supervisor Matt Haney says that it’s mostly talk.

Haney, who is the Tenderloin’s District Supervisor, tweeted out that encampments in the neighborhood have risen from 145 to 432 just since March 5th. That is triple it’s amount from two months ago.

Currently the city has committed thousands of hotel rooms, fleets of mobile homes, and many “safe camping areas” to help the homeless population. However, even those recourses, Haney says, are not enough, or at least the wheels of bureaucracy are moving far too slowly. He has called on his city to help create “actual change” through working groups, contact tracing efforts, mobile testing, and public outreach. Though most importantly the supervisor demanded clear goals and timelines, something that he lamented the city is lacking so far.

“The TL is still gravely at risk, not much has changed since the announcement of the ‘Tenderloin plan.’ Unfortunately it’s not actually a plan, more of an assessment, without a timeline, point person, process, clear goals, or much input at all from residents,” said Haney

Despite this Haney has continued to write legislation, letters, op-eds and held press conferences to enact that “actual change.” The supervisor even raised over $120,000 himself to house his constituents and personally handed out PPE while the city dragged it’s feet on accomplishing the same goals.

Though Haney pleads for more tangible action from San Francisco the city has announced Friday that a second safe camping area will open in the Pan Handle with 70 openings and Oakland announced it has launched Operation HomeBase with a 130 person capacity.

Haney, Breed, and Schaaf all seem to be frustrated with the situation and left wanting to do more, but the pandemic creates new and challenging situations for everyone. San Francisco mayor London Breed says that every problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic including the city’s homelessness issue. She also seems to think that transitional solutions like couch suffering and government programs like Homeward Bound have caused those in unstable living situations to take to the streets. Furthermore, many San Franciscans are continuing to loose work and financial security. Governor Newsom last week projected California to be at nearly 22% unemployment in the wake of COVID-19 impacting the US.


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