San Francisco

San Francisco Approves Triage Center for People Living in Vehicles

San Francisco supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday to approve plans for a vehicle triage center, allowing for unhoused people to stay overnight in their vehicles.

The ordinance, put forth by Supervisor Ahsha Safai, would provide long-term parking space for up to 33 vehicles at 2340 San Jose Ave., the future site of Balboa Upper Yards, a 138-unit affordable housing development.

Construction on the apartments, however, won't start until October 2020, so the space would only serve as a temporary spot for the vehicle triage center.

The space will also offer amenities like restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a kitchen and eating areas. Residents would be allowed to stay for up to 90 days, and after that their stay could be extended at the director's discretion.

In addition, the center would also be equipped with security and office space to provide onsite services for those living in their vehicles.

Once signed by Mayor London Breed, the center could be open by November, Safai said.

He said after several community meetings with residents in the area, he was glad they were open to setting up the triage center.

"I'd say the majority were in favor of giving this a try because they knew that there were individuals that were currently living in their vehicles in the neighborhood already and they wanted to give them an opportunity," he said.

"There were concerns initially about safety. They (the residents) thought maybe we we're going to be getting the more hardcore homeless: drug addiction, mental health issues," he said. "This is a very different population of people, and as such it requires a different level of service."

Also, during Tuesday's meeting, both supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney introduced legislation to stop the closure of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital's Adult Residential Facility, following the department of public health's decision to remove 41 of the facility's 55 long-term beds. The facility provides long-term care for people suffering from mental illness.

The legislation would require the health department to operate and fill all 55 beds at the facility, immediately begin working with the city's human resources department to hire a full staff, and identify potential residents for the beds.

"Long-term beds for the mentally ill are what San Francisco needs right now," Ronen said. "The people we see on the streets abandoned and struggling with mental illness completely on their own, are who these beds are meant for. We can't afford for a single bed to go unused. If we don't reverse DPH's decision, more people with mental illness will be left to wander the streets of San Francisco."

Separately, Ronen also introduced a resolution, along with her colleagues, that would support breaking ties with utility giant PG&E and moving toward renewable public power.

Ronen's resolution comes after Mayor London Breed on Sunday announced she wants San Francisco to purchase PG&E's electricity assets in the city for $2.5 billion. PG&E filed for bankruptcy back in January and Monday proposed a plan to emerge from that bankruptcy.

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