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After major Mission District sweeps, city placed just 6 in homeless shelters

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Barricades line the sidewalk along Alameda Street near Potrero Avenue on Thursday, May 3, 2018, a week after SFPD and Public Works conducted homeless sweeps in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

A week after The City disbanded homeless encampments across the Mission District, the numbers are in: a total of six people were housed in shelters for a seven-day period as a result of the Wednesday, April 25 sweeps.

That’s according to Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing spokesperson Randolph Quezada. He added that another six people were connected to the Homeless Outreach Team, commonly referred to as the HOT team.

The enforcement action was called for by Mayor Mark Farrell, who described some homeless San Franciscans as “service resistant,” meaning they were not accepting services offered by The City. Public Works and San Francisco Police Department personnel began disbanding tent encampments early Wednesday, while also confiscating tents and other items from people who were not immediately near their belongings.

SEE RELATED: ‘They don’t have a place for us’: City clears out Mission tent encampments

Prior to the enforcement action in the Mission, the Department of Homelessness counted at least 126 tents in the neighborhood, Quezada said. As of Monday, the department counted 17 tents in the neighborhood.

Considering the number of tents cleared, and the low number of people connected to shelters or services, Kelly Cutler, a human rights organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness, called the sweeps a failure of city policy.

“Compare this to what an encampment resolution looks like, a three or four week process,” Cutler said. “It sounds like throwing (services) in at the last minute.”

The City has a long waiting list for shelter beds, with 1,082 names on it as of Thursday.

For the sweeps, officials offered those cleared from tent encampments mats on the floor at Next Door, a shelter on Polk Street, for seven days. People were allowed to bring only a small bag of belongings if they accepted shelter.

Many of the areas that had been cleared last week remained relatively empty on Thursday, with barricades placed on some streets. However a scattered handful of tents could be seen.

Cutler said she and fellow Coalition on Homelessness staffers observed most of the people whose tents were dispersed simply put up tents in other nearby neighborhoods, like South of Market and Dogpatch. Homeless advocates call this process the “sidewalk shuffle.”

Quezada disagreed, and said “our data does not show a spike in encampments in other neighborhoods as a result of last week’s efforts.”

The San Francisco Examiner asked where the tent-dwellers went, since city data shows they were not placed in shelters. Quezada did not respond before press time.

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