SF opens second homeless navigation center

More than a year after San Francisco opened its first Navigation Center to help homeless residents transition to permanent housing, city officials opened a second one Tuesday in The City’s South of Market neighborhood.

During an opening ceremony Tuesday morning, Mayor Ed Lee helped welcome formerly homeless residents to the new 93-bed center, located at the Civic Center Hotel at 20 12th St.

Similar to the first Navigation Center, the new one will also accept homeless residents, as well as their partners and pets, and provide them with programs such as case management, employment services, health services and as well as helping them finding permanent housing.

As of this morning, the new center had not reached full capacity and still had room for 43 individuals, according to Gail Gilman, executive director of the nonprofit Community Housing Partnership.

The building, which is owned by the UA Local 38 Plumbers Union Pension Trust Fund, is only a temporary location for the center. The Civic Center Hotel will be rebuilt in about two years at a new location about a block away, Gilman said.

The future location will include 550 homes with 110 permanently affordable homes for formerly homeless people as well as current residents of the second Navigation Center.

The City first opened a Navigation Center in March 2015 at 1950 Mission St. in the Mission District. Located on property owned by the San Francisco Unified School District, the center is equipped with dormitory-style rooms, dining, shower, bathroom and laundry facilities, as well as counseling offices.

Since its opening, the first center has served about 550 clients.

Additionally, over 80 percent of clients who have left the center have moved on to stable and supportive housing or have reunited with friends and family, according to city officials.

“This is not just about the two centers that we have open or the ones that we are going to open, it’s really about redesigning the entire system. And the Navigation Center is exactly the model we should be pursuing,” director of the newly created Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Jeff Kositsky said.

Last month, Lee announced that Kositsky would be leading the new department, which is set to launch on Friday.

During today’s ceremony, Kositsky also announced the creation of a new Encampment Response Team, which will assist people living in tents on the streets in the hopes of getting them into permanent housing.

“Having people living in tents on the street, in conditions that are unsafe … it’s not healthy and it’s certainly not a humane way to address the problem of homelessness,” Kositsky said.

The ERT will begin meeting next month and is expected to be up and running by August, according to Kositsky.

The City is also planning on opening a third Navigation Center in the Dogpatch neighborhood sometime later this year, Kositsky said.