City dumps ‘flawed’ Bayview shelter

San Francisco city officials today said they have dropped plans for a 100-bed homeless shelter in the Bayview District after the project’s costs proved to be higher than anticipated, but hope to pursue another project in the neighborhood.

In a letter dated today, Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Human Services Agency, told the state Department of Housing and Community Development that the city was withdrawing its funding application for the shelter at 2115 Jennings Ave.

Rhorer today said the project, located next door to an existing drop-in shelter, was initially expected to cost around $1 million, with the cost to be covered by a $978,000 state grant approved in 2013.

However, as work proceeded officials found that due to overhead costs and environmental standards not covered by the original estimate, the project would cost closer to $4 million, with the city on the hook for the additional $3 million, Rhorer said.

When efforts to bring the cost down failed, the city concluded that it would be more cost effective to pursue options such as supportive housing or a facility similar to the homeless Navigation Center now operating at 1950 Mission St., Rhorer said.

The proposed shelter drew strenuous opposition from some neighborhood groups, who voiced concerns about bringing more drug and alcohol use to an area that already struggles with crimes, and from Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Bayview.

Cohen today said in a statement that the project was:

“flawed from its inception. … For years, the Bayview community has been forced to carry a bulk of many of San Francisco supportive services and the idea to build a 100-bed shelter was another example of a unilateral decision made by the City that completely lacked any real community process or input.”

Opponents also cited concerns with industrial activities taking place nearby, which they said made the site inappropriate for a shelter.

Rhorer said the community opposition did not play a role in the decision to drop the project:

“Every time we try to site something for the homeless, we get opposition. … Sadly, nimbyism is part of the equation when you’re trying to site a project to serve the homeless, but it’s not a reason to abandon a project.”

Rhorer said The City is searching now for another location for a project in the Bayview District, and can reapply for funding when it has a new project. He noted that the neighborhood currently has only one shelter, and it isn’t open 24 hours a day.

According to San Francisco’s 2015 Homeless Count, supervisorial District 10, which includes the Bayview, had 1,272 homeless people out of the total 6,686 counted in the entire city. The only district to have more, at 4,191, was District 6, which includes the South of Market and Tenderloin areas.