Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
Published on April 26, 2017
Mission Neighbors Pack Town Hall Over Proposed Homeless Navigation CenterPhoto: Google Maps

A proposed Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness Ave., currently a vacant lot and electrical building, drew roughly 200 Mission neighbors to a community debate on Monday night, Mission Local reported.

The Navigation Center will serve as a homeless shelter with on-site supportive services for six to nine months, District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen said, much to the dismay of attendees opposed to the project. 

In March, Ronen made an agreement with developer Lennar Multifamily Communities that allows the city to set up a Navigation Center on the property until Lennar acquires the permits it needs to build a 157-unit mixed-use housing development.

Supervisor Ronen said an estimated 300 people living unhoused in the Mission and approximately 150 people have found shelter in tent encampments throughout the neighborhood. Currently, about 8 percent of the city’s shelter beds are located in the Mission.

While the Navigation Center is open, at least six staffers will reportedly be on-site at all times, and the property’s parking lot will be configured to encourage shelter clients to congregate there instead of on the adjacent sidewalk.

Besides Supervisor Ronen, city officials including SF City College trustee Tom Temprano, director of the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing Jeff Kositsky, SFPD Chief William Scott and  Public Works director Mohammed Nuru were in attendance on Monday night, all in support of the Navigation Center.

Mission residents, however, were reportedly on opposing sides of the issue. Some neighbors favor the planned homeless shelter as a better-than-nothing step in the right direction, while others argue a Navigation Center will only bring more problems to a community already inundated with tent encampments.

Activist and comedian Nato Green spoke in favor of the Navigation Center. | Via YouTube

Those against the shelter said that the neighborhood already has a Navigation Center at 1950 Mission Street and that the area is being asked to serve a disproportionate number of homeless residents. Others expressed concerns that delays with the Lennar development could turn a temporary Navigation Center into a permanent fixture on South Van Ness Avenue.

The public hearing was held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts; dozens of neighbors were reportedly turned away due to the fact that the auditorium’s 180-capacity was already maxed out. A second meeting on the matter has allegedly been promised to Mission neighbors by Ronen, who convened Monday's meeting.