As of early February, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing reported 1,633 homeless people approved for housing and awaiting their turn to move in. Yet records provided by the department show 888 vacancies in its permanent supportive housing stock as of Feb. 22. Filling those empty rooms would not just cut the waiting list by more than half. It would be enough to house roughly one in every eight homeless people in the city. The homelessness department said it cannot talk about individual cases, but officials acknowledged that at least 400 people have been waiting more than a year, far beyond the department’s professed goal of placing applicants into housing 30 to 45 days after they’re approved.
San Francisco has not prioritized neighborhoods with little recently built affordable housing when deciding which projects to fund, a public audit released this week found.
About 90% of affordable housing added in the last decade has gone to just four eastern and central neighborhoods.
SF Has Not Made a Single Payment From Federal Rent-Relief Program as Eviction Moratorium Poised to End
With time running out, not a single San Francisco resident has received a check from the city’s federally funded rent-relief program. Barely a week remains before landlords can resume evictions for unpaid rents due during the pandemic.
“I have never been evicted or homeless,” said Buddy Bates, a renter in Parkmerced and father of two. “I live in that fear constantly now.”
More than a year after COVID-19 shut down much of the city, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is set to resume all parking enforcement policies and phase in towing.
Advocates opposing San Francisco’s towing practices have asked for a permanent moratorium.
In an effort to keep certain buildings from collapsing during an earthquake, thousands have received city-mandated seismic retrofits. But as Joe Eskenazi, managing editor at Mission Local, revealed in a recent special report, some of these upgrades left gas lines encased in concrete, which raises concerns about post-quake fires or explosions.
“The real problem is if it breaks and the gas leaks out inside the building, where it’s leaking out quote-unquote under slab,” meaning under the concrete foundation. “Then all you need is some manner of spark, and then you have an explosion,” Eskenazi told “Civic.”
It’s unclear how many of the 4,000 retrofits completed in the city have potentially problematic encased gas lines, which makes it difficult to measure exactly how catastrophic the aftermath of an earthquake could be. “If even just a small percentage of the retrofits have a problem like this in an earthquake situation, that could be a significant number of fire risks throughout the city,” Eskenazi said. “Even a small portion of these having this risk could lead to a terrible situation following an earthquake, because all the emergency services are going to have enough to do after an earthquake.”
In a second special report, he surfaced complaints that engineers have been making for years about shoddy construction work on such retrofits, which they allege were brushed off by the building inspection department.
A local group that worked with San Francisco on a public program to allocate rental relief funds is keeping a list of thousands of applicants from city staff, an official confirmed Friday. That has made it impossible to follow up with the applicants and give them additional help.
Q Foundation created the web application tool for rent assistance through San Francisco’s Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
The selection of Shireen McSpadden to lead the city’s homelessness department is being greeted optimistically by officials who have dealt extensively with San Francisco’s chronic inability to find shelter for all its residents.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Joe Wilson, a prominent advocate for homeless people, said they were encouraged by the choice of McSpadden, who is set to take over May 1 — becoming the fourth person to hold the role in 14 months.
The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing was founded in 2016 by former Mayor Ed Lee, who consolidated programs that had been scattered throughout different departments and brought them all under one roof with the promise of ending homelessness for 8,000 San Franciscans in four years.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denied an application to raze and rebuild Plaza East Apartments, a 20-year-old public housing complex in the Western Addition, the agency confirmed.
The determination was made on March 30 but not publicly disclosed until Tuesday, when HUD officials were questioned by the Public Press. The move comes three months after the San Francisco Housing Authority submitted a demolition application, with Mayor London Breed’s endorsement.
Federal officials are considering a proposal to allow a developer to tear down and rebuild a 20-year-old public housing complex in the Western Addition — a plan that does not address residents’ demands for repairs to health and safety issues in the current structures.
A new city agency, founded in the wake of rising concerns about the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s ability to house the city’s homeless population, aims to bring 2,000 people into permanent shelter by the end of the year.
The new Office of Housing Opportunities will be a division of the COVID Command Center, shifting responsibilities away from the Department of Homelessness. Chris Block, formerly the director of the chronic homelessness division at Tipping Point, a nonprofit focused on battling poverty and homelessness, is directing the effort.
Two reporters who have been covering the city’s response to homelessness during the pandemic for the San Francisco Public Press, Brian Howey and Nuala Bishari, reflect with “Civic” on a year of stories about seizing belongings, COVID-19 testing, hotel policy and supportive housing.