Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said a new Hummingbird Place shelter for homeless people approved Tuesday on Valencia Street “will make a modest but important contribution” to to bring homeless people indoors. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes approve new homeless facility in first meeting since city lockdown

Board votes to allow future meetings to be held remotely

In its first meeting since San Francisco was placed on lockdown over the coronavirus, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve opening a 30-bed behavioral health center at 1156 Valencia St.

The City took drastic measures at midnight to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All non-essential government functions were shut down and residents were ordered to stay at home, except to perform basic needs like buy groceries or visit a medical doctor.

But the Board of Supervisors is considered an essential government body and its meetings will continue through the three-week lockdown, albeit in a limited fashion, to act on matters with pressing deadlines.

In the coming weeks, however, they may not meet in person.

The board voted 11-0 to allow itself to conduct meetings via teleconferencing, meaning they will no longer show up at City Hall in the board chambers to conduct the meetings but instead participate remotely. Details on the system and how the public can participate have not yet been released.

The board also voted unanimously to approve the Hummingbird Place homeless shelter program at 1156 Valencia St. The site will provide 30 overnight beds and also allow for up to 25 people to drop in during the day to receive clinical care.

The program is based on the same model as the Department of Public Health’s Hummingbird Navigation Center located at San Francisco General Hospital.

A Department of Public Health report said that a known group of homeless people in the Mission, Upper Market and Dolores Park corridors with behavioral health issues “could be better served by having a place close by where they could receive more immediate support.”

The budget analyst’s report said that the facility is expected to open next month.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents District 8 where the proposed site is located, said that he wasn’t clear if the timeline to open the facility would be affected by the volume of work created by Department of Public Health’s response to the coronavirus. However he said opening the facility as planned could bring 30 people off the street and better protect them from the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“The COVID-19 crisis has brought into stark relief the public health imperative of getting unhoused folks indoors into safe spaces,” Mandelman told the San Francisco Examiner. He said the facility “will make a modest but important contribution to that broader effort.”

There were 43 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in San Francisco as of Tuesday.

The three-year lease, ending February 2023, between The City and the owner of the 10,000-square foot site, the Salvation Army, is estimated at $1.2 million, about $40 per square foot. Operating costs through July 1, 2021 are estimated at $3.9 million.

The City has received a $3 million grant from Tipping Point to help pay for the program.

The site is slated for an affordable housing development in three years, but if it is delayed The City could extend the lease for two additional years.

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