Inside the South Van Ness Navigation Center

The new Navigation Center on 1515 South Van Ness Ave. on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Karen Sanchez/El Tecolote)

As a homeless person living on the streets, I have encountered my fair share of shelters here in San Francisco. I’ve also been to two of the Navigation Centers as well. I was at the Navigation Center on Mission, and currently I’m at the Navigation Center on South Van Ness. I’m about to give you a direct outlook into the South Van Ness Navigation Center, that’s where the Good vs. the Bad come into play. I’m about to tell you the good and the bad about this Navigation Center.

“The Good” is that the services here are incredible. When you first come in you are greeted with the utmost respect, then you are approached by staff giving you the rules to the facility. After that, you are escorted to your bed area in which you are sleeping. Another benefit of the Navigation Center is they have on-site staff 24 hours a day. For this Navigation Center to be fairly new, they are pretty much running the Center really good. The rules are applied on a case-by-case method. Also for you animal lovers, they are pet friendly. They will host your pets as well. Another thing is that they find you housing a lot faster than the Mission Navigation Center.

There isn’t any curfew, but just know you have to check-in every 3 days to keep your bed. Also, they have storage for all your belongings, which you have access to every day of the week. Now, with the good, there is always some bad things as well.

“The Bad” about the Navigation Center is this: First and foremost, the communication level from staff to client is at times very disrespectful. I understand that everyone has a bad day, but leave it at the door before coming to work. Also, another thing is that staff show favoritism to certain individuals. I’ve seen it w ith my own two eyes. The three-day policy where you can be gone for three days and and check in with just a warning for each day’s absence is about to stop. Also staff come at clients so disrespectfully talking behind clients’ backs and verbally putting clients down for NO reason at all. And when you get a DOS (Denial of Services), you’re supposed to give a copy of the incident report, length of sanction or DOS, and a grievance packet. Tell me why they don’t do that here? So far there has been eight people sanctioned or DOS with no paperwork.

This Navigation Center also has NO structure whatsoever—staff go out and behave inappropriately for the workplace. How can you chastise a client when you are doing the same thing?

So you tell me when is the city going to put certified and qualified staff at future Navigation Centers, or even current Navigation Centers? When is the city going to realize that homelessness is real and that you need to stop spending millions of taxpayers money for disrespectful bullshit?