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Rosemary Johnston, the legislative chairwoman of the county’s Regional Continuum of Care Council, which addresses homelessness countywide, on Tuesday sent a letter to City Council members urging them to select a downtown location for the temporary winter homeless shelter at their Oct. 13 meeting.
Citing the Jan. 30 homeless count conducted by the Regional Taskforce on Homelessness, Johnston said it made no logical sense to move the shelter outside of downtown. District 2, which includes downtown, was home to 1,098 homeless people, according to the count.
District 3, with the second highest concentration of homeless people, was home to only 455. Here’s the complete breakdown, according to Johnston:
District 1 – 48
District 2 – 1,098
District 3 – 455
District 4 – 3
District 5 – 66
District 6 – 111
District 7 – 11
District 8 – 115
But District 2 Councilman Kevin Faulconer has opposed the temporary shelter being placed in his district. In recent months, he has supported his stance by arguing that homelessness is a regional problem that requires regional solutions.
According to Johnston, while that may be true, the greatest need remains downtown.
Because the street population is not distributed evenly throughout the city, it is not logical, efficient, or effective to place shelters or services in districts with a very low homeless population. The issue of access to services is very important and compounded by the lack of convenient access to public transportation throughout the city.
The Mayor’s Office released a new list of potential sites for this year’s winter homeless shelter on Sept. 28. It includes 27 sites, spread across the 8 council districts. Only 10 are suitable to accommodate the tent and the services it will provide, according to a staff report.
The list of potential sites was the second the Mayor’s Office has provided to the council. Last month, council members rejected a list of proposals that contained only downtown locations. They asked the city to expand its search beyond downtown, but they all refused to propose possible sites within their own districts, as the mayor had requested.
The council will take up the issue at their next meeting on Oct. 13.