Supe seeks housing priority for homeless

The homeless and formerly homeless will could have top priority in all of The City’s affordable housing programs thanks to District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell.

Farrell announced Tuesday he was directing the City Attorney’s office to draft a tenant preference ordinance favoring the homeless.

Farrell, whose district includes the Marina, the Presidio, Pacific Heights and parts of Russian Hill told SFBay the new priority system would play an essential role in housing the homeless population in the City.

If we are serious about getting more homeless individuals and families off our streets and into housing, we need to implement stronger policies here in San Francisco.

The legislation is designed to increase the availability of affordable housing as residents move up and then out as they’re rehabilitated.

This is the latest in a series of moves by Farrell to house the homeless population living on the streets of San Francisco and is the product of a series of hearing he conducted to examine the problem. He also helped pass legislation increasing funding for the Homeless Outreach Team.

City residents who came to the hearing complained about clogs in the system including the number of stabilization beds, affordable housing units and restrictions on residents and partners.

A 2013 homeless count in San Francisco identified 7,350 individuals living on the streets, in shelters, jail and transitional housing. The study found 914 were minors and 29 percent identified as LGBTQ.

The directive would only apply to City-funded and City-managed affordable housing units in privately-owned developments of which there are about 3,500, according to Farrell’s office. That’s because federal and state laws prohibit this type of preferential treatment in public housing.

The new tenant preferences would affect a number of individuals and families living in affordable housing. These tenants could be forced to move to make room for the currently homeless.

Farrell is pushing the idea of a housing ladder in which the homeless are integrated back into society through a series of affordable housing options and support services.

After meeting with stakeholders and city staff and housing providers, Farrell plans to formally introduce the legislation later this year.

Farrell told SFBay the new legislation would help the formerly homeless stand on their own while also freeing up existing housing units for those living on the streets:

“We all know there are formerly homeless individuals and families who have become more self-sufficient in our City’s supportive housing units and should move on to more independent living situations.”