Homeless hub to debut at Civic Center Hotel

A year after the opening of the Navigation Center in San Francisco’s Mission District, a widely-praised, innovative shelter program designed to move homeless residents into permanent housing, Mayor Ed Lee Wednesday announced plans for a second center on Market Street.

The new 93-bed center will be located in the Civic Center Hotel at 12th and Market streets. Operated by the nonprofit Community Housing Partnership, the center will begin accepting clients in two months.

Lee today said The City is:

“… doubling down on homeless programs and services we know work to improve the lives of people in need. … Living on our city’s streets is unhealthy and unsafe, and we are helping people stabilize their lives and end their homelessness through our Navigation Centers.”

The single-room occupancy Civic Center Hotel, owned by the UA Local 38 Plumbers Union Pension Trust Fund, is eventually slated for redevelopment as part of a Strada Investment Group project that will include 550 units.

More than 25 percent of those units will be affordable housing, including a 110-unit supportive housing project for formerly homeless residents and those exiting the Civic Center Hotel, according to the mayor’s office.

The property owners have contracted with Community Housing Partnership to operate the building as a Navigation Center for the next two years, until development begins, city officials said.

Lee also announced the addition of 200 new units of supportive housing to the city’s stock to provide more “exits,” or permanent homes, for those leaving the Navigation Center system.

The current 75-bed Navigation Center at 1950 Mission St. is designed to provide a more welcoming atmosphere for homeless residents, with fewer of the rules and restrictions that can make some choose the streets over shelters.

Residents are allowed to keep their belongings, pets and loved ones with them and are given intensive assistance in obtaining benefits, counseling, medical and drug treatment and housing.

The Navigation Center has helped 126 clients return home to family and friends through the Homeward Bound program since it opened last year.

Another 128 have been moved into supportive housing, 11 into stabilization units and three into residential treatment programs, city officials said.

The announcement of the new Navigation Center comes only a day after Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation calling for the city to open six new Navigation Centers within the next year.

Campos, who worked to open the first Navigation Center in his district, has expressed impatience with the slow progress made by the city in opening additional centers and what he described as the mayor’s “failure to act.” Following widely publicized sweeps of homeless encampments on Division Street and nearby areas, he also introduced legislation calling for the city to declare a state of emergency over homelessness, in an effort to reduce some of the red tape involved in opening new shelters.

The mayor slammed Campos’ proposals in a speech before the Board of Supervisors on March 8 as empty “rhetoric.”

Lee said in that speech that he had declared homelessness to be a crisis in December last year but that “my response included substance.” Campos today on Twitter said he was glad his proposed law was having the “desired effect” to get Lee and his team “to do more on homelessness:”