Not a single City Council member complied with a request from the Mayor’s Office seeking location recommendations for this year’s winter homeless shelter.
Seven of the eight members responded to the letter from Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone, but none proposed sites within their own districts, as Goldstone had requested.
Council President Ben Hueso did not respond at all. “He’s still evaluating how he’s going to handle it,” said Michelle Ganon, Hueso’s spokeswoman.
Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who represents downtown and has opposed the shelter being placed there, reiterated his view that homelessness, as a regional issue, should involve regional participation to find more permanent housing and services solutions.
In their letters, the other members said their districts would be inappropriate for a shelter, given that homeless services needed to make the shelter successful were concentrated downtown. That was a point made by homeless services coordinator Amy Benjamin at last week’s City Council meeting, when members asked her to expand the scope of the search to include potential locations outside downtown.
Carl DeMaio, Todd Gloria, and Sherri Lightner and Donna Frye all said a downtown site would be most appropriate, though DeMaio suggested a site near the Civic Center, which would serve as a “daily reminder to city officials for the need to take action on the permanent shelter.”
“I am not opposed to the concept of sharing the solutions of homelessness across the eight council districts,” Frye wrote, “but displacing people to locations where the services they rely on to survive are across town is inappropriate. It is important that we keep the health and welfare of our homeless community at the forefront of these conversations.”
Tony Young floated the idea of a motel voucher program, saying District 4 had no feasible site for a shelter.
District 7 CouncilwomanMarti Emerald said her staff was evaluating three potential sites, but was not ready to release them because of her constituents’ strong reaction to a shelter “in their backyard.”
“They asked us to come back with citywide alternatives,” said mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing. “We wanted them to have the opportunity to recommend what was in their districts.”
Not having received those recommendations, Laing said, “We’re going to recommend some sites citywide as asked. But it’s their duty and authority to select a site and approve it.”
The City Council is next scheduled to take up the issue Oct. 13.