The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to oppose the planned closure of a Bayview RV site that has housed hundreds of homeless people over the last three years.
The site, located at Pier 94 and surrounded by industrial lots, is slated to be closed by the end of the year. The 118 residents currently living there would be transitioned into other forms of housing, according to the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which manages the site.
The vote on Tuesday simply urges the city to keep the site open. Both the city’s homeless department and the Port of San Francisco, which owns the land, have said they will continue with the planned closure.
The port, for its part, previously told Mission Local that the site is unsuitable for long-term housing, as it’s surrounded by industrial factories and dirt lots.
At least one of those lots was, for years, used illegally by Recology for the crushing of radioactive debris, mounds of which were still blowing into the wind and into the RV park as recently as last month.
Advocates and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, however, worry the planned closure of the Bayview site would scatter those residents and return them to the streets. Walton introduced a resolution last Tuesday, May 2, calling on the city’s homeless department, its port, and their oversight bodies to keep the site open.
That resolution was passed unanimously yesterday.
While the homeless department’s current plan mentions a bevy of housing options, including permanent housing and shelters, that is no guarantee people will end up in stable housing, advocates say.
“They don’t have any place to transition those people, realistically,” said Arieann Harrison, a longtime environmental activist in Bayview who knows several residents of Pier 94.
Harrison said the Bayview RV site’s services — showers, on-site medical and psychiatric care, free laundry, two hot meals a day — help residents take care of their basic needs, something not available at other city homeless shelters.
“You got to create stability before you can transition people into housing. They need a minute to build community.”
In interviews with residents of the site last week, several were shocked at the planned closure of the site, saying they had no plans, and had barely been informed. Others expressed resignation at the plan.
And others still said that they had, for years, been promised permanent housing by the city without a concrete offer materializing, boding ill for the successful transition of every resident.
The city’s homeless department first leased the site in April, 2020, as an emergency measure to house homeless District 10 residents during the pandemic.
Its management has been subcontracted to the Felton Institute, a nonprofit that took over the site after its previous manager, United Council of Human Services, was barred from receiving city contracts.
United Council of Human Services was cut off from city contracts following numerous investigations into shoddy financial reporting and non-compliance with state charity laws.
A former employee also sued the nonprofit, alleging in part that CEO Gwendolyn Westbrook was offering limited shelter spots at sites like Pier 94 to family, friends, and employees.
The city is planning its closure per the original leasing agreement with the port, which was meant to last as long as Covid-19 remained a public health emergency; the city ended its emergency declaration on Feb. 28.