Newsom: SF more than halfway to homeless goal

Nearly six years into the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the program has created 1,679 units of permanent housing for its chronically homeless residents.

The plan calls for 3,000 new units of permanent housing, as well as support services, to get homeless adults out of shelters and into more stable environments. It was launched in June 2004.

Newsom discussed the progress while meeting with volunteers before doors opened at Wednesday's Project Homeless Connect services fair at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. He also said that nearly 19,400 people have volunteered at the massive event since it began in 2004.

Newsom acknowledged that homelessness in San Francisco has certainly not gone away, but said that the chronically homeless population has decreased for the first time in 30 years.

However, securing housing for someone is only a first step, he said. Broader poverty issues are typically at the root of the problem.

“Thousands in the Tenderloin are housed and still on the street panhandling,” he said. “It's people with issues that need to be addressed consistently.”

The mayor pointed to Wednesday's Project Homeless Connect fair as an example of the support people need to stay off the street. Many of the people lined up outside the auditorium, where health, legal and other services were offered, aren't homeless but rely on those services, Newsom said.

In the moments before Project Homeless Connect opened its doors, director Judith Klain said 800 people were waiting outside.

“These are not easy times,” she said.

Wednesday's Project Homeless Connect is the 33rd since the program started. Volunteers have added mammograms and follow-up care appointments to the lengthy roster of services available at the fair.

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