The Department of Homelessness plans to purchase the property at 440 Turk St. next month for $5 million. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Homeless Department plans amenities for Tenderloin one-stop-shop site

After plans to open a 24-hour homeless resource center at 440 Turk St. were dropped this summer, the space will now double as administrative headquarters to The City’s Homeless Department and as the “front door” to San Francisco’s array of homeless services.

“There isn’t really now a centralized place where folks can go to learn about what we are calling a homelessness response system [or] Coordinated Entry [System], to get matched up with the appropriate intervention,” said Gigi Whitley, deputy director for administration and finance for The City’s Department on Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

The Homeless Department plans to purchase the two-story, 25,000-square-foot building next month and on its top floor provide “up to 90 spaces for office staff, conference rooms, private offices,” Whitley said.

On its ground floor, the site will provide space for homeless client intake. There, staff will meet with clients to conduct entry assessments for housing, among other things.

Randy Quezada, a spokesperson for the Homeless Department, said that single adult homeless clients will “have a point of entry into our programs [and] coordinated entry” and that “most of our staff will finally be under one roof.”

At a Capital Planning Committee hearing Monday, Whitley detailed the department’s plans for purchasing the Tenderloin space from the San Francisco Housing Authority for $5 million, which garnered approval from the committee.

The purchase will be made using the first issuance of a 2016 Public Health and Safety Bond, or $5.3 million of a $20 million sum granted to the department to use toward upgrading its city-owned homeless service sites, which include three shelters.

Although the first issuance was allocated last year, the Homeless Department — then in the midst of it’s inception — was sent back to the drawing board to revise plans on how to best put the money to use.

The department had originally planned to open a 24-hour service center at the site and lease out additional office space in the South of Market neighborhood, but faced criticism in July for the costs of running two facilities and for by-passing processes to gather community input.

In response, the department froze its plans to open the around-the clock center. While drop-in hours at 440 Turk St. will be limited to 8-12 hours a day, showers, bathrooms and access to laundry will still be part of the deal, according to Whitley.

“If you’re experiencing homelessness you can come to the center, get respite from the street, take a shower, do your laundry and be matched with the interventions that our department is working on,” she said.

The Homeless Department will present its plans for the site to Board of Supervisors. Rehabilitation of the site is set to begin in April 2018, and the department projects that 440 Turk St. will be move-in ready in November 2018.

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