“Since I’ve been in office, one of the things that has been hardest for me to deal with is what is going on in the Castro,” Sheehy said, referencing the issues of homelessness in the area. “Our response is always to call the police or the DPW (Department of Public Works) to find them a place to stay. We cannot solve the problem until we find places.”
— Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, in a March 26, 2018 SF Examiner article, “City officials take firsthand look at Castro District public safety issues.”
Dear Supervisor Sheehy,
First of all, a first response to homelessness should never be the Dept. of Public Works or the police. Neither of those agencies are equipped to provide the services or care to homeless people. Instead, they often place people in further crisis: DPW has repeatedly cleared homeless encampments and displaced homeless people, while also destroying people’s personal property, including important medical items (like walkers!) and sentimental belongings (like the last existing photograph of someone’s child). SFPD harasses homeless people on a daily basis. They have slashed people’s tents, given people citations for simply existing in public space, and been verbally/physically abusive. With the violence that homeless people face from both of these agencies, why would we ask them to allocate shelter to people? Social workers, not the police, should be the first responders to homelessness.
Second of all, “finding someone a place to stay” is near impossible under the current restraints of the system. Yes, there are Navigation Center beds (which are wildly expensive at $95 per night per person), but there are an insufficient number of beds and the length of stay at the Navigation Center is only 30 to 60 days— and most folks are right back out onto the street! The adult shelters have a waitlist of over 1,000 people long.
End the police response to homelessness.
End the DPW response to homelessness.
Don’t Deploy DPW ≠