Rafael Mandelman on Tuesday questioned Mayor London Breed on what steps the city is taking to combat homelessness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mandelman tells mayor homeless problem getting worse, not better

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told Mayor London Breed Tuesday that he has seen no marked improvements in the issue of homelessness in the district he represents since she was sworn into office — and in fact it’s gotten worse.

Mandelman called on Breed to respond to his assessment of The City’s effort to address homelessness during “question time” with the Board of Supervisors.

“The unfortunate truth is that in District 8, street conditions do not appear to be improving in a sustained or sustainable way,” Mandelman said. “Particular encampments may get resolved quickly, but my constituents in the Castro, Upper Market, Duboce Triangle and Mission Dolores are not seeing a reduction in the number of homeless folks seeking shelter in public spaces.”

“And to the contrary, there appear to be more people seeking shelter on sidewalks and in parks, in front of vacant storefronts, in front of residential doorways and garages than ever before,” he said.

Mandelman, who, like Breed, was elected to his current seat in June, said he wanted to know what The City will do to address the issue.

Breed has made tackling homelessness one of the cornerstones of her administration. Her performance on the issue will likely factor into her re-election bid next November.

“I am committed to working to address these issues in District 8, just as I am committed to working throughout the city to meet these challenges,” she said Tuesday.

She told Mandelman that the Healthy Street Operations Center, which launched in January and coordinates efforts to address homelessness among several city departments including police and public works, will prioritize areas in his district.

Breed also pointed to her October announcement of plans to create 1,000 shelter beds and to efforts to acquire single-room-occupancy hotels and add more medical respite beds and sobering beds.

“That’s a thousand people that we will be able to get off the streets into shelter or some sort of housing situation,” Breed said. “It will make a difference. But it is not the long term solution. Part of the long term solution is investing in housing, building housing.”

She added, “If we don’t continue to aggressively build more housing then it’s going to get even worse. The key is housing production.”

“Do you feel that folks in the areas of the city that may not feel like they have seen improvements are going to see improvements over that year?” Mandelman asked.

“We know there is a lot of work to be done. This was not created overnight. So the solutions aren’t going to happen overnight,” Breed said.

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