‘A Place for All’ ordinance promises a safe place to sleep for all homeless citizens in S.F.

Proposed legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman prioritizes safety and privacy

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on Tuesday proposed legislation to ensure homeless residents be provided with shelter more quickly and be offered a wider range of options — including tiny homes and other non-congregate shelters.

Mandelman’s ordinance, “A Place for All,” would call for city policy to explicitly state San Francisco will offer every homeless person a safe place to sleep.

The ordinance is a substitute version of an October 2020 ordinance that also sought to shelter every homeless person in The City. That legislation, however, failed to gain support from the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, which sided with using safe sleeping sites to meet the demand for shelter beds.

Under the updated legislation, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing would be directed to use a wider set of options to provide shelter besides congregate settings, such as tiny homes.

Mandelman spoke at the site of a tiny homes pilot project in South of Market at 33 Gough St. The site, developed by Dignity Moves, has moved in 30 people.

“San Francisco cannot continue to rely on residential neighborhoods as campsites of last resort for unhoused folks, including individuals suffering with significant behavioral health issues and substance use disorders,” Mandelman said. “The people on our streets are getting sicker every day, preparing to die while one of the wealthiest cities in the world watches and tells them to wait for housing first, housing first someday.”

“It’s a question of life or death for people who live on streets,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes SoMa and the Tenderloin.

“If people don’t have a bed to sleep at night indoors, they are putting their lives at risk and we can do so much better than what we’re doing now,” he said. “When we try to get people inside, too often we’re told again and again there’s no bed for them. There’s no room for them in shelter. The shelter wait-list has thousands of people on it.”

“What we have found is that when people do outreach into the encampments and offer a room or bed in a group shelter, the number one reason people decline is because they want their private space, so this is one more tool in The City’s toolkit to create something that’s attractive to people,” Dignity Moves Founder Elizabeth Funk said of the tiny homes.

“Psychologically, when you feel safe, that’s when you can start to think forward rather than worry about getting raped or worry about where your next meal is going to come from. That psychological sense of security is what we’re trying to create here,” she said.

Mandelman’s ordinance would require the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to come up with yearly estimates of the number of people who would likely accept shelter if offered, and have enough shelter space to meet the demand within 36 months.

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