The Navigation Center at 1950 Mission Street will be turned into 165 units of affordable housing. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure Tuesday that requires the city to build six more so-called Navigation Centers in the next two years to get more homeless residents off the streets. 

The vote follows the success of the nationally-lauded 75-bed Navigation Center located on Mission Street near the 16th Street BART Plaza. The transitional shelter focuses on moving small groups from encampments off the street and into permanent housing and opened in March 2015. 

As of June 6, the Navigation Center had moved 354 individuals into permanent housing out of 522 total, including 201 sent home to family or friends through the Homeward Bound program.

The measure, introduced by Supervisor David Campos, passed with little discussion, though it faced significant controversy over time and feasibility when it was first proposed.

Earlier this year, Campos called on the mayor to more adequately address the city’s homelessness crisis by asking that the city declare a state of emergency on the issue and pushing for the creation of six more Navigation Centers in a year.

That timeline has been extended to two years, and three of the Navigation Centers must be opened within the first year. A second Navigation Center at the Civic Center Hotel at 12th and Market announced earlier this year will count towards the total, as would another possible site in the Dogpatch.

The measure also requires the city to study the success of the Navigation Center model and identify revenue sources for housing some 8,000 homeless people in the next four years, a commitment the mayor has made.

Homeless residents can enter the shelter with all their belongings, their partners, and pets — an exception to the rules which advocates say has helped with the center’s success.

But it has also put pressure on the Mission District, Campos has said, as more homeless people move into the neighborhood in hopes of entering the shelter.

The new legislation also allows for existing shelters to be converted to Navigation Centers, and states that all Navigation Centers be temporary for no fewer than six months but no more than two years. All centers will have capacity for no less than 40 and no more than 100 at a time.

The original center at 1950 Mission St. is slated to be demolished and replaced with a fully affordable housing building, and will be closed by March 2017.

The new legislation also requires that the city investigate the creation of a so-called “wet house,” a shelter that would allow alcohol consumption on premise and provide treatment services. A previous version of the measure required that one of the Navigation Centers be a wet house, a notion met with vehement opposition from the mayor.

The creation of a safe-injection site — in which drug users would be allowed to use intravenous drugs on-site under supervision — has also been removed from the measure, though staff from Campos’s office said they would look to introduce the safe-injection site as a stand-alone item.

For his part, the director of the newly created Department of Homelessness, Jeff Kositsky, said he was skeptical of the safe-injection sites but that he would go where the evidence took him.

“Nothing should be off the table,” he said. “I need to see data and facts.”

Orlando Shooting Honored

Also on Tuesday, Campos said he would draft a resolution to create a plaque in San Francisco dedicated to the victims of the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. He said members of the Latino LGBT community urged him to ensure that they were not forgotten in remembrance of the tragedy.

The nightclub targeted in the shooting, Pulse, was a well-known gay Latino hotspot in Orlando and was attacked on Latin night.

“It has been a very difficult few days for me, not only as a gay man, but as a Latino man, to see the tragedy that unfolded, and then as a gay Latino man to see the names and pictures of the members who perished,” he said.

Each supervisor then read from the list of names of the 49 people killed in the shooting. The overwhelming majority of the victims had Latino-sounding last names.

“Shane Tomlinson, 33. Stanley Almodovar III, 23,” Campos said, shakily. “Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25. Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.”

The supervisors unanimously voted to end the meeting in honor of the victims.

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