Dear Mayor Ed Lee,
Yesterday, I asked the Board of Supervisors to use a provision in state law to declare a state of emergency on homelessness in San Francisco. A mere four hours later, you dismissed the call for a state of emergency as rhetoric and grandstanding. I am writing you to ask you to reconsider.
Almost 7,000 of your residents are homeless, and 3,000 are living in the doorways and streets of our neighborhoods. Anyone who thinks the people of San Francisco are happy with how City Hall has handled homelessness is, frankly, out of touch. People are angry and desperate and want City Hall to take action. Your dismissal of the call for a state of emergency shows a real disregard for the level of crisis that your constituents are struggling with.
As of today, six of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors have co-sponsored the state of emergency declaration: Board President London Breed, supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos, Eric Mar, Aaron Peskin and Norman Yee. I can assure you none of these supervisors are grandstanding.
The state of emergency has been endorsed by both the head of the Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach, and your former homeless adviser and the architect of the Navigation Center program, Bevan Dufty. Neither of them are grandstanding.
The mayors of Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland and Seattle have all called for declarations of emergency on homelessness to secure funding and shelters for their cities. They weren’t grandstanding.
And most importantly, thousands of residents from all over San Francisco have responded to the declaration of the state of emergency with “thank you” and “finally” and “please make this happen.” And I can assure you none of them are grandstanding either.
I know your administration didn’t cause the homeless crisis in San Francisco. And I know the path to completely end homelessness in San Francisco will take time. But by building more Navigation Centers and by tightening our belts and prioritizing spending, we can solve the growing problem of street homelessness and the inhumane clearing of encampments. The homeless need a place to go other than the doorways of my district. Navigation Centers work, so let’s build them.
This is not about me and you, Mayor Lee. This is about the people of San Francisco who are shouldering this burden. We need to put any hurt feelings aside and get to work. The declaration of emergency on homelessness is the first step of many the Board of Supervisors and the mayor must take to address street homelessness.
The people who elected us to represent them in City Hall want us to work together to solve this crisis. And while our City Charter gives you full control of the agencies responsible for addressing homelessness, it gives the Board of Supervisors the right to declare an emergency and require that the mayor take action. The board has decided it is finally time to exercise that right. The people of San Francisco want us to solve street homelessness, and if that means cuts to our $9 billion budget to repurpose funds, then we need to make those cuts.
This is not personal. This is not rhetoric. I am doing the job the people of District 9 elected me to do. If we work together like we did to build the first Navigation Center in the Mission, I know we can make real progress.
As the representative of the people of the Mission, Bernal Heights and the Portola, I ask you to please sign the declaration of emergency on homelessness and work with the Board of Supervisors to quickly open more Navigation Centers and give your constituents the help they are looking for.
David Campos, District 9 supervisor