Supervisor David Campos on Tuesday called for the city to declare a state of emergency on homelessness in order to release funds from the state usually reserved for natural disasters.

“This is an emergency and an emergency deserves and requires emergency action,” Campos in front of the Navigation Center on Mission Street, a transition center touted nationwide as a successful model for moving homeless people to permanent housing.

Campos also announced plans to introduce future legislation that would force the city to create six new transitional housing centers in the next year, three of them in the next four months.

“Your local government, in my view, has failed you to address this crisis of homelessness,” Campos said.

Bevan Dufty, the city’s former point man on homelessness, reacted from a personal standpoint to the proposal:

Campos specifically called out Mayor Ed Lee, saying the city had failed its residents, homeless and otherwise.

“The mayor of San Francisco ultimately has the authority over the city agencies responsible for addressing homelessness,” he said. “At the end of the day, if the executive branch of city government is not able to act as we need, then the legislative branch has to step in.”

The mayor returned fire at the Board of Supervisors meeting today, where the Chronicle reports he criticized Campos’ press conference as substance-less.

“That event didn’t offer any solutions, no new philanthropic partnerships, no new sites for Navigation Centers and no path forward,” Lee said. “But it did offer rhetoric.”

Sam Dodge, Dufty’s successor as the mayor’s point man on homelessness, also had reservations about the proposal.

“I think a declaration of emergency doesn’t really add to our tool chest as well as people might perceive,” Dodge said. “It’s more of a moral statement and I support that moral statement and the mayor announced as much in December,” when he called homelessness a “dire crisis”

Dodge also called Campos’ proposed timeline ambitious, but said he would try to rise to the challenge. The problem, he said, would be finding places to go for those who enter the centers hoping to transition into housing.

“He is proposing to open six new Navigation Centers without adding any new exits from homelessness, any new housing units,” Dodge said. “We’re really held up by how many housing exits we have. Otherwise it just becomes a sort of warehouse for poor people.”

In the short term, it’s unclear whether the city will pursue short term solutions like providing portable toilets at encampments, though it has been expanding its Pit Stop program.

Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, among other advocates, been vocally frustrated by the city’s practice of clearing homeless encampments, saying those roused and displaced often have nowhere to go, with space at the lone Navigation Center and temporary Pier 80 shelter dwindling. Dodge said there are still a few space left at both institutions.

“We’re really excited that supervisor Campos is moving forward on pushing for additional Navigation Centers,” Friedenbach said. “It really demonstrates the way to address encampments in a humane way.”

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  1. It took lazy-ass David Campos seven years to get around to this homeless emergency declaration idea, as his tenure on the Board comes to an end? Always a day late and dollar short, aptly describes his approach to any crisis in the Mission.

    In January 2015, the City declared a homeless emergency existed and I obtained the declaration through a public records request to the Mayor’s Office, which I posted to my blog. Read it here:

    Why the hell didn’t Campos use that declaration to further a homeless-solution process? As far I could research and after speaking to 20 or so Mission residents, there was no evidence that Campos said a thing about the 2015 declaration.

    My hunch is that Campos put on a PR stunt, I like his bow-ties by way, for the cameras and press, at the Navigation Center in order to benefit his aide Hillary Ronen in her quest to replace him on the Board.

    If there is one thing I am sick of it is how Campos always announced he’s soon introducing legislation in coming weeks. Sounds to me that Campos needs extra time to get his act together on his latest useless proposal.

    The Mission sure as hell needed a vibrant, smart, savvy and effective Supervisor as the Tech Boom exploded. Instead, we got Disastrous Campos.

  2. 250 Million a year is not enough to flush down the “homeless” rat hole… We must have MORE !

  3. “The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.” – aldous huxley
    certainly not the strong suit for san francisco…
    SF is spending $84 MILLION more on homelessness in 2016 than in 2011, and gotten 0 return. money is not the problem… it is using it intelligently.
    “conservative mormon” utah has decreased chronic homelessness by 91%!! they have created a program called “housing first” through which they build housing for the homeless. it costs the state $7,800 per person per year for housing and a case worker. the program cost approximately $20 million. that is smart and compassionate.

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