In a press release today, the San Francisco Human Services Agency released the 2015 iteration of its biennial San Francisco Point In Time Homeless Count. The count notes that District 8, which includes the Castro, Upper Market, Duboce Triangle and Buena Vista Park, saw an increase from 95 to 183 people identifying as homeless.
Interestingly, the count revealed that the overall homeless population in the city is 6,686, a 3.8 percent increase from the previous count of 6,436 in 2013. While the increase is relatively minimal, homeless movement in districts of the city has changed significantly, with seven of the 11 districts all seeing increases between the current and last report.
The increase in the Castro has certainly been noted by our readers, who've voiced a wide variety of opinions on the issue and what needs to be done. Articles about Jane Warner Plaza, crime roundups, and especially stories on homelessness and homeless individuals all run the gamut of opinions in the comments section.
What accounts for the migration and what efforts are being made to help with homelessness in general? We spoke with Director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE) Bevan Dufty to hear his thoughts on the shifts in the Castro homeless population, and what programs are in place to help alleviate homelessness.
Dufty, appointed to his role by Mayor Ed Lee, told us that the changes could be partially attributed to displacement from new development, but that that doesn't completely explain the shift. "Many parts of the Mission and SoMa have seen new housing development in the past two years," he explained. However, "I can’t say that this definitively contributed to the movement of people to District 8 and the Castro, as several underused Castro parcels transformed into housing during this same period."
To help homeless individuals, Dufty told us that a new project, The Navigation Center, is making strides already. The program, launched in March of this year, is a pilot project that aims to help homeless people reconnect with loved ones at home, move off the streets and into stable housing or residential treatment programs, and get access to the services they need to stabilize their lives.
"We are seeing success with over 130 individuals coming to Navigation in the first three months," Dufty said of the program's success thus far. "40 people have already been housed, 16 are in process, and 15 have returned to family and friends through Homeward Bound."
Additional help may also be on the way. "The Mayor and Supervisors are approving $30 million over next two years to master-lease 500 new SRO (single-room occupancy) residential hotel units to house people, including those exiting the Navigation Center," Dufty told Hoodline. "Last month, we opened Jazzie’s Place, providing 24 shelter beds for LGBTQ individuals."
Other interesting points of the overall San Francisco Homeless Count include:
- 29 percent of respondents identified themselves as LGBTQ, representing no change since 2013.
- The 2015 Youth Count identified 853 homeless youth compared to 914 youth in 2013, a seven percent decline.
- The proportion of chronically homeless people decreased substantially over the past six years from 62 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2015.
- The number of homeless veterans decreased from 716 in 2013 to 598 in 2015, representing a decline of 16.5 percent.
- The largest population of homeless people counted remains in the Tenderloin area.
Do these figures reflect what you've observed in the neighborhood? Let us know what you think of the issue in the comments.