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New policy ties homeless services to motor home parking ban

San Francisco is moving closer to restricting oversized vehicles on specific streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved a policy on Tuesday that before any street restrictions banning oversized vehicles, like motor homes where people without a home are living in, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) will send an outreach team to a specific street to offer services before the SFMTA approves the restriction.

It’s a different policy for the SFMTA board who had requested since 2012 not to receive any more oversized vehicle restrictions from staff until The City came up with solutions to help people living in vehicles.

Finally, city officials are working on plans to help those living vehicles, according to an announcement made last month by Mayor London Breed and supervisors Vallie Brown and Ahsha Safai.

Right now, plans are still in the works for HSH to study a location where people living in vehicles receive homeless services. The department is also looking into a vehicle storage facility where people can leave their vehicles in storage while they get connected with services.

HSH, though, has an outreach team that has already been to a street that the SFMTA board approved oversized vehicle parking restrictions last month on De Wolf Street.

There was limited information at the time of the meeting on what services were offered to those living on that block of De Wolf Street and if anyone received housing.

Additionally, staff will consider restrictions in locations of The City with a high  concentration of oversized vehicles, around schools and playgrounds so not to subject children and families from health risks from encampments of oversized vehicles, streets with limited parking, and streets with graffiti and dumping.

If a parking restriction advances to the SFMTA board approval, the staff report will include existing regulatory conditions, site visit, outreach efforts, and services offered.

SFMTA board director Gwyneth Borden, who voted for the new policy, said she will continue to not to vote in favor of oversized vehicle restrictions until The City has concrete plans:

“I will not move forward with any new bans until there is a solution because I’m sick of the fact that we are setting up ourselves up and hearing these every other week and still have no solution. I’m personally at my wit’s end on being put in that position.”

Borden added:

“I won’t be able to vote for any of these bans because The City has not done its job.”

Kelley Cutler, a human right organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness, a critic of the policy, questioned what services or housing the outreach teams can offer when there are more than 1,200 people on the waiting list for a temporary shelter bed:

“What services are they talking about? This is really important that they’re coming back to you and telling you what resources. If there isn’t housing, what are they talking about then?”

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