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News + PoliticsCampos throws down gauntlet, calls for state of emergency...

Campos throws down gauntlet, calls for state of emergency on homelessness

Supervisor says the mayor has failed to act on the crisis

Supervisor David Campos, frustrated by the city’s lack of progress on homelessness, is planning to announce Tuesday/8 that he’s introducing legislation to call a state of emergency to clear the way to build six more navigation centers in the next year.

Sup. David Campos offers a direct challenge to the mayor
Sup. David Campos offers a direct challenge to the mayor

In a strongly worded statement aimed directly at Mayor Ed Lee, Campos says:

If the Executive Branch of our local government won’t act then it is the responsibility of the Legislative branch to intervene.

I will be asking my colleagues on the board to move as quickly as possible to activate a provision in state law, usually reserved for disasters like floods and earthquakes, allowing the city to take emergency action to build additional Navigation Centers on city owned property. And in the next few weeks I will be introducing legislation that requires the executive branch to build six additional Navigation Centers in the next year, three of which must be built within the next four months. The Ordinance will also require a funding plan that will activate emergency reserve funds and streamline and cut current spending in our $9 billion budget to build these Navigation Centers without additional cost to our residents. If we can afford $5 million for the Super Bowl, we can afford to address homelessness.

The navigation center in the Mission is a successful program that allows homeless people to bring partners, pets, and possessions – not allowed in most shelters – and steers them to stable housing situations. Campos worked with Bevan Dufty, who was then the director of the city’s homeless programs, to bring the center to the Mission:

We’ve been told that other districts would also be doing their part and Navigation Centers would soon be opening in other parts of the city, but over a year later we have yet to see this happen.

The current Mission center will be forced to move or close in a few months when the property is turned into an affordable housing project, and a new site hasn’t been found. Pier 80, which the mayor has touted as a major part of his solution to the problem, will only be available for a few more months, too, since the Port is planning to lease that property to a long-term tenant.

Campos will be joined at his 10am press conference by Jennifer Freidenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, and Dufty, who is now retired from his city job.

His statement puts the blame for the city’s homeless problem directly on the mayor, who has encouraged tech industries to move to the city with tax breaks and encouraged tech workers to live in the city with private shuttle buses, without making sure that existing residents aren’t forced out by the high housing costs his boom has created.

Oh, and the mayor has allowed some 6,000 housing units to be taken off the market and turned into Airbnb hotel rooms.


I want to apologize to the people of San Francisco on behalf of City Hall.

The mayor of San Francisco, who has authority over the city agencies responsible for addressing homelessness, has failed to respond adequately to the growing homeless crisis and City Hall has failed to hold him accountable.

For years, people without homes have been pushed in to neighborhoods like the Mission and Soma with no real plan to provide services or shelter. This failure to act has caused a public health emergency in San Francisco that has reached intolerable levels.

I’ve received hundreds of calls and emails and have been in the streets of my district talking to the neighbors, business, and homeless people who have been affected by this crisis. I want my constituents to know that I have heard you and understand why you are angry.

You’re angry that over 7,000 people who have lost their jobs, people who have been evicted, people dealing with drug addictions, youth kicked out of their homes, and people who’ve been abandoned by our medical system have no option but to live on our streets.

You’re angry that our residents have been forced to care for sick and hungry people sleeping in their doorways, forced to walk on streets covered with human feces, and forced to help as best as they can people with severe mental health issues.

You’re angry that we’ve spent millions of dollars on bad homeless policies that leave shelters bed empty; that there are long wait lists for drug treatment and detox programs; and that San Francisco, the city of innovation and tolerance has become known for our outdated, inhumane, and ineffective homeless policies, while cites like Salt Lake have solved theirs.

So that’s a pretty dramatic challenge to the mayor and the other supes. A state of emergency would allow the city to bypass normal planning and budget procedures; it would also put San Francisco on record as saying that the housing situation is not even remotely acceptable, that the Mayor’s Office has failed to address it, and that it’s time for extraordinary measures.

And all of the supes who are up for re-election or running for other offices will have to go on the record on this. Should be an interesting couple of months.

The press conference is at 10am at 1950 Mission

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. I’m not implying anything. I’m flat out stating that we are spending $241 million a year on homeless prevention programs and getting NOTHING for our money only more homeless.

  2. Isn’t spending $45,000 PER HOMELESS PERSON PER YEAR, for the past 30+ years, addressing homelessness? At what point do we realize that just endlessly tossing money to service organizations isn’t accomplishing much of anything? Maybe treating the non-mentally ill homeless in a tougher, but fairer, way might work, such as “We’re going to provide you with x, y, and z and in exchange you won’t leave needles on the street, threaten people, etc.”

    I don’t think Ed Lee is a particularly good mayor but the homeless problem certainly didn’t begin with him. I remember Camp Agnos in Civic Center quite well and, even before that, TONS of homeless. The “tech invasion” is just the latest excuse for the do-nothing BOS that continues to allow the problem to fester without ever trying any new ideas other than throwing more money at a problem it’s obvious money alone won’t solve.

  3. I think we should put an 18 month moratorium on all homeless spending on the ballot and let the voters decide.

  4. Just look at this commentary.
    People that care about a real problem and have information to share.

    Gotdam, I miss San Francisco.

  5. Ya lost me right at the end there.

    “Homeless sinkhole”
    What exactly does that mean?
    Are you implying that the money invested in homelessness has been used inefficiently, or the the problem is not something the city ought to be spending money on?

  6. Nonsense. San Francisco spends about $15,000 per homeless person per year. We could easily afford to house them if we just chose to make housing a lot less expensive to build. But the Telegraph HIll Dwellers and the rest of our progressive blue bloods think views of the bay and quaintness are more important. Our situation is a reflection of our values.

  7. The homeless are not going to be able to afford housing. I think they need a first step, which is to figure out initial sheltering options.

  8. But when further analyzed, “The Chronicle story’s third problem is that while the $241 million annual homeless spending figure used in the heading is technically correct, the public should be reminded that much of that money ($112 million) is spent on people who are already housed. . .The problem, of course, is that when you subtract the $112 million for supportive housing, the per person homeless spending number is nearly cut in half. And when you take medical costs ($45 million), eviction prevention/rental assistance ($27.2 million), and child care ($2.5 million) out of the homeless budget, the city’s real spending on shelter needs and homeless outreach is roughly $55 million.”

    See section “SF Does Not Spend $241 Million on Homeless” about halfway down this article:


  9. headline from the Chronicle less than a month ago.

    “S.F. spends record $241 million on homeless, can’t track results”

  10. What is that supposed to mean? being sympathetic to the homeless is one thing, being supportive of ass backwards homeless policies is another altogether. WE NEED TO BUILD MORE HOMES! WE HAVE A SHORTAGE OF HOUSING! and Campos wants a moratorium.

  11. You figures are way off. $112 million goes to keeping people in subsidized housing, another $40 million for healthcare, another $7 million to help people with evictions, etc. The amount for homeless is less than $100 million, still not wisely spent and still not enough.

  12. The “housing first” approach to homelessness has been found to be much more effective way of finding a permanent long term solution to the problem. One small city in Canada reduced homelessness to zero by providing people with safe shelter first and social services/support/drug addiction counseling second.

  13. I don’t think you’d like to have to live outside. Put yourself in their shoes, if they have any.

  14. Navigation centers. I do this work every day. If there is no very low income housing, no subsidies, no RESOURCES to navigate people TO, what good are navigation centers? I navigate people to WAITLISTS. People DO NOT get navigated to stable housing situations, that is a lie. Come ON, people!

  15. “Oh, and the mayor has allowed some 6,000 housing units to be taken off the market and turned into Airbnb hotel rooms.”

    We’re up to 6,000 now?

    Any explanation for how the Legislative Budget Analyst was so wrong when they said their best estimate was 1,251? Or any of the other empirical studies that ranged from 300 to the 1,251.

    Any chance that Tim might share the detailed research showing that the correct number is 6,000 units taken off the market by Airbnb??????? A link is all we need!!!!

  16. It’s one thing when a commenter or Tim Redmond tries to use the Super Bowl $5 million card, but it’s another thing entirely when an elected official attempts to intentionally mislead the public.

    We knew from the start that there would be tax revenue to offset that $5 million and the hotel tax revenue alone was $5 million more for that week than it was for the same week last year. Airbnb, gross receipt tax, sales tax and more remain to be included.

    Campos never misses a chance to mislead the people that he is supposed to serve. Such a willingness to use false information to his advantage is chilling.

  17. I would be more sympathetic to David Campos if he was not in his 8th year on the Board of Supervisors. “You’re angry that we’ve spent millions of dollars on bad homeless policies?” Who’s been in the catbird seat this whole time?

    The first Navigation Center was the creation of the Lee administration about a year ago.


    How can Supervisor Campos be angry about Lee’s inaction when Lee is the one who created the very program that Campos is agitating for more of? The grandstanding is exhausting.

  18. San Francisco spends almost a quarter of a billion…that’s billion with a B…dollars each and every year on the homeless. And for the record, the numbers are in and the City made huge returns on its small $5 million superbowl investment. Much of that money will no doubt be poured into the homeless sinkhole.

  19. OHHH He threw down a gauntlet! well that oughta fix things!
    San Francisco, the only city on planet earth with a housing shortage and so called housing rights activists are demanding a stop to housing construction.

  20. Build homeless centers, and they will come.

    The Chron ran another article last week about a homeless man who came to San Francisco because he heard that services for the homeless are good here.

    Obviously, they are not good enough.

  21. Thank you!!!!! It’s about time something was done!! I agree – if the city can spend 5 million for the SuperBowl week, the city can put some resources towards getting people out of the cold.

  22. There aren’t even 7000 people who are homeless, so it’s a bit of a stretch to say that 7000 people had to live on the streets because they lost their jobs or got evicted. You should have to define what crisis conditions are before you declare one, but facts were never Campos’ strong suit. Also kind of interesting that it took him 8 years of hearing from his constituents that there was a problem for him to issue a press release.

  23. Campos has been in office almost 8 years. He never did shit. He is a fucking clown who will be looking for a job soon.

  24. if only someone had run against Big Ed Lee in the last election – but no one did…not even Campos.

Comments are closed.

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