San Francisco opened its third Safe Sleeping Village inside the playground area of Everett Middle School, city officials confirmed with SFBay on Monday.

The sites are part of a pilot program aimed at providing homeless individuals short-term physical distancing space that offer food, water, sanitation and health services.

Max Barnes, a spokesperson for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the Dolores Street Community Services is operating the site at the middle school and will gradually move about 50 people in over the next few weeks.

City officials opened the first site on Fulton Street between Hyde and Larkin streets near the Main Library and Asian Art Museum.

Jesse Garnier The Everett Middle School on Church Street in San Francisco, Calif. began populating with tents on Monday, June 9, 2020 as the city’s third Safe Sleeping Village

A second site opened at Haight and Stanyan streets at a former McDonald’s and is being operated by Larkin Street Youth Services. The site faced a potential legal challenge by some Haight Street merchants who have since backed off.

The sites are meant to serve areas of The City where encampments already exist.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman pushed for the safe sleeping sites in an April resolution as the number and size of tent encampments were continually growing. 

Mandelman suggested temporary sleeping villages be established at empty parking lots and vacant spaces, including the playground area at Everett Middle School.

Some supervisors, though, assert that the sites are not substitution for placing people experiencing homelessness into hotel rooms.

In April, supervisors approved an ordinance requiring The City to procure 8,250 hotel rooms, of which 7,000 of the rooms would be reserved for homeless residents.

Jesse Garnier The San Francisco, Calif. Castro established a “Safe Sleeping Village” at Everett Middle School with tents populating the parking lot Monday, June 9, 2020. This is the third such site created in the city to accommodate homeless individuals and provide physical distancing space during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a May 27 press conference, supervisors criticized the mayor for not following the ordinance. Supervisor Hillary Ronen said:

“If you’re unwilling to implement our plan for how to fix this human crisis, then please tell us what your plan is.”

City data shows that 2,373 hotel or RVs have been acquired for vulnerable populations and of those, 1,960 units are ready for use.

In total, 1,225 people from the vulnerable population are occupying rooms and 81 are in RVs.

The “vulnerable” population defined by The City includes those over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions deemed high risk who either live on streets or in congregate settings.

An additional 936 hotel rooms have been made available for essential workers, of which 477 are currently occupied.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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