Mayor Ed Lee’s homeless czar Bevan Dufty is stepping down from his post next month to be succeeded by his underling who worked on homeless issues in New York City.
Dufty said he decided to retire after turning 60 this past February to spend more time with his 9-year-old daughter and his partner. The mayor appointed Dufty to the post in January 2012. Previously, Dufty was the District 8 supervisor and a mayoral 2011 candidate.
Dufty’s departure, which becomes official after Nov. 6, comes in the wake of controversial remarks by Mayor Ed Lee about removing homeless persons from the streets for the celebration of the Super Bowl this February and last Thursday’s controversial announcement of The City’s 311 mobile app that allows residents to report homeless persons.
The mayor announced Monday he has tapped Sam Dodge, who has served as deputy director on homeless issues under Dufty during the past year, as his new homeless czar. Dodge was employed by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which is run by the mayor’s ally Randy Shaw, for about six years beginning in June 2000.
Dodge also worked from September 2008 to September 2013 as an associate staff analyst for the New York Department of Homeless Services. During his time in New York, Dodge worked on projects like the “Penn Station Initiative,” which “reduced the nightly homeless count by 75 percent,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
The transition comes as the mayor, who is up for reelection Nov. 3, would enter his second four-year term in office.
For some the news was unexpected, but those close to the administration said Dufty’s departure was anticipated for weeks.
“The only people pushing me out were my kid and my partner,” Dufty said. He added that he felt the time was right for him to step down. “It got to the point where I feel like a lot of good things are happening.”
Such accomplishments include the creation of the Navigation Center model, a less formal homeless shelter, in the Mission, which is expected to be replicated in other areas. Dufty noted the mayor asked him if he wanted to have any other position in city government that wasn’t in the “center of the firing line.”
Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said in a text message that “Bevan worked very hard to solve homelessness in a very hateful political environment. We are sad to see him go but look forward to a productive relationship with Sam Dodge.”
Shaw was nothing but enthusiastic about the promotion of Dodge, his onetime employee. “I can’t imagine anyone better for the position. There isn’t anyone who knows homeless from the street level better than Sam.”
Shaw added Dodge was an expert in supportive housing and single room occupancy hotels. He said both Dufty and Dodge were “on the same page with the mayor” as it related to policies.
Dodge said he plans to continue the work Dufty started and also looks to implement efforts that have had success in other regions like New York, Houston and Utah. He added that “we can make the system more efficient and more effective” as it relates to services for the homeless.
The homeless count this year identified 6,686 persons in The City. In 2005, the count was 6,248 persons.