The City’s former homeless czar Sam Dodge announced Monday he is leaving the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing — but he’s not going far.
Dodge will serve as a special assistant to the head of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru.
Dodge told the San Francisco Examiner that among his duties will be assisting with improvements to the Civic Center Plaza, known as the Commons effort, as well as public drug use, through coordinated efforts with the Public Health Department.
Public Works is also charged with clearing homeless encampments and cleaning up syringe litter.
The announcement came Monday at the beginning of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board meeting.
“These past three years has been a wild ride,” Dodge said. “Not un-difficult, but so inspiring to be shoulder to shoulder with so many people that care so deeply.”
Dodge took over as The City’s homeless czar in October 2015, but when San Francisco created a new homeless department last year, he served as its deputy director.
“More and more over this last year when accomplishments are being achieved, I’ve been more in the role of kind of observing and support, which is wonderful,” Dodge said. “But there’s only so many seats in this work.”
He added, “The department is really out of its infancy and really hitting its stride.”
The department announced Monday the release of a long-awaited five-year strategy to reduce homelessness.
Dodge began his public service career in June 2000 working as an advocate for The Tenderloin Housing Clinic, under executive director Randy Shaw, where he worked for about six years. Dodge also worked from September 2008 to September 2013 as an associate staff analyst for the New York Department of Homeless Services.
After working for Public Works, Dodge took over as San Francisco’s homeless czar — officially the Director of Housing, Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement — when Bevan Dufty, also a former city supervisor and current BART board member, stepped down from the post in October 2015.
But then in May 2016 San Francisco launched the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and announced Jeff Kositsky, formerly the head of the nonprofit Hamilton Family Center, as the director. Dodge would go on to serve as its deputy director.
“Sam was really one of the architects of creating a new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing,” Kositsky said. “I’m going to miss his friendship. I am going to miss him as a thought partner in the department, but he is not going to be too far away.”
Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said that Dodge “will be working on a lot of quality of life issues.”