On any given night in San Francisco, there are over 4,000 people living on the street, unsheltered. There aren’t enough homes or shelter beds for our City’s homeless population, so unhoused residents sleep on the streets—in tents, sleeping bags, or any place they can find with a sliver of warmth and security.
Most people can agree that these kinds of living conditions are inhumane. However, in San Francisco, when opportunities to actually provide the city’s homeless population with a safe, warm place to sleep arise, neighborhood opposition rears its ugly head.
This was the case two weeks ago at a community meeting to discuss a proposal to open a cabin community at 1979 Mission that would provide shelter to people experiencing homelessness. HAC was present at the meeting, where we witnessed a disheartening number of neighbors voice their, at times vehement, opposition to the proposal.
The people who spoke against the cabin community proposal shared the sentiment that they want to support efforts to help shelter and house the homeless; however, they want the 1979 Mission Street shelter to be built somewhere else.
This type of hypocrisy is classic NIMBYism, and sadly, classic San Francisco.
And because of the backlash to the proposal, which would provide unhoused San Franciscans with a private heated room, a bed, a desk, a window, free meals, and hot showers, the entire project is in jeopardy of being killed.
The site in question is currently a vacant lot owned by the city and scheduled to be developed into affordable housing in 2025. The fact that in San Francisco, where it’s incredibly hard to get new housing built, there is an opportunity to build a homeless shelter before developing the site into a 100% affordable housing project is a miracle.
The combination of addressing a short-term problem—helping to get unhoused residents off the streets— and a long-term problem—building affordable housing, is the type of innovative housing proposal San Francisco needs.
Killing this project will mean a vacant site in a city that needs to maximize as much available space as possible will sit empty and unused for two years.
Most importantly, it will mean denying our City’s unhoused population with a safe, dignified place to live and social services that will help guide them toward a pathway out of homelessness.