Mission District residents stunned at expedited timeline for new mental health and substance abuse shelter

Kate Larsen Image
ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Mission District residents stunned at timeline for new mental health shelter
There's a proposal to very quickly build a new shelter for homeless people who want mental health and substance abuse help.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There's a proposal to very quickly build a new shelter for homeless people who want mental health and substance abuse help.

On Monday night, Mission District neighbors packed into a basement for a community meeting, that in just two months could be the site of a new shelter for homeless people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

RELATED: Embarcadero Navigation Center: Neighbors, tenants share mixed feelings about shelter since one month opening

"I find it shocking that I'm hearing about this today. Like why the hell weren't people in this neighborhood informed of this," asked one woman whose children go to school at Buena Vista Horace Mann Elementary, one block from the proposed shelter location.

Last week, Mayor London Breed and District 8 Supervisor, Rafael Mandelman, announced their plans to lease a vacant Salvation Army building on Valencia Street between 22nd and 23rd Streets.

Supervisor Mandelman wants to authorize the Department of Public Health to lease the property for $404,000 per year and says that Tipping Point Community, a San Francisco non-profit, provided a $3 million grant that will partially fund the build-out and project.

The proposed 30-bed, 24-hour respite center would be an expansion of the

Hummingbird Place behavioral health program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, where 312 people sought care between July 2018 and June 2019.

RELATED: San Francisco's homeless navigation centers: 7 questions answered

The program would be operated by non-profit PRC/Baker Places.

"I have a loved one that had a substance abuse problem and went through that system and had a very positive experience, and so I think that it works," said Lisa Picarile who lives directly across the street from the potential shelter location. "There are three or four different homeless people just on this block. Those of us that see them every day can't help them every day, something like this can help them."

But a few doors down from the Salvation Army building, the owner of The Crepe House has a different perspective.

"Human feces pretty much twice a week, we have some needles as well, that we have to clear up," said Share Haddadin.

After 10 years on Valencia Street and zero break-ins, Haddadin says his restaurant was broken into four times last year. He fears the shelter will create more problems for his already struggling business.

"If they want to feel sorry about it, take them to your home," said Haddadin.

Supervisor Mandelman says there's a reason for the expedited timeline.

"We need to do 100 times this if we're going to solve the problem in the City. We need to keep moving, I don't think we can afford to spend 6 months on every 30-bed increment," said Supervisor Mandelman.

Supervisor Mandelman says it's possible the shelter could open this April.

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