YIMBY Action statement on Embarcadero Seawall Lot 330 SAFE Navigation Center
YIMBY Action supports the proposed SAFE Navigation Center at Seawall Lot 330 near the Embarcadero. We support more navigation centers and emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness, anywhere that they can be built, citywide. We believe that everyone should have a home. In a city where over 4,000 people go unsheltered every night, we recognize the need for more emergency shelters and supportive housing. Over the course of its four-year lease, this proposed navigation center can help thousands of people get the healthcare, counseling, and resources they need to find housing.
Research shows that the “Housing First” model helps people experiencing homelessness become stable, and allows people to seek out any services they may need for mental illness or opioid addiction. This is why Housing First approaches are supported by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the San Francisco Chronicle. YIMBY Action supports building more supportive housing to help people off the street, and supports more navigation centers to address the crisis of people without shelter. The navigation center strategy embodies Housing First principles by giving shelter to people as soon as possible and helping them stabilize their situations. And it appears to be working. Housing approaches are not only humane but also cost-effective for government: a San Francisco city report shows that people in housing are able to access preventative services and require less assistance.
The barrier to opening more navigation centers is similar to the barriers for building more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing: suitable land, the approval process, and money. For land, Seawall Lot 330 is public land owned by the Port of San Francisco that currently serves as a parking lot. This means it doesn’t have to be purchased or acquired. For the process, Mayor London Breed’s shelter crisis legislation (passed March 19) will streamline the permits needed and allow the city to build centers faster.
The Navigation Centers do great good for people suffering homelessness. And they have won support from housed residents in the neighborhood. The Dogpatch Neighborhood Association supported the extension of the Central Waterfront Navigation Center at 25th and Michigan. Fears about safety are overblown: in the three years that the Central Waterfront Navigation Center has been open, no public safety incidents were reported. In the news, we have found no injuries resulting from navigation centers in San Francisco.
Finally, YIMBY Action believes that increasing the housing supply is part of the answer to solving homelessness. Research from the UCLA Anderson Forecast shows a link between high housing costs and homelessness. High housing costs are one reason why California has double the rate of people suffering homelessness compared to nationwide. A key part of the solution to homelessness is to build more homes.
Originally published at https://yimbyaction.org on April 3, 2019.