San Francisco’s solution to combat homelessness is costing taxpayers $5,000 dollars a month to house a single person in an outdoor tent.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the city’s Mayor, London Breed, announced the creation of a tent program called “Safe Sleeping Villages,” to house the homeless after indoor shelter capacity was reduced by more than 75% to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last week announced our first Safe Sleeping Village in Civic Center to address the rise in tent encampments in the surrounding area.
Today we're announcing we'll be opening the next site at the former McDonald's lot on Stanyan.
Here's a thread on why we're willing to try this:
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) May 15, 2020
The city set up six outdoor “villages” to house more than 300 people in 262 tents. The sites provide the homeless three meals a day, round-the-clock security protection, bathrooms, and COVID-19 testing. Operating a single tent costs the city $190 per day, which is nearly $100 less than Project Roomkey, the city’s homeless hotel program. However, the tent program has ended up costing taxpayers millions of dollars more.
In March, the San Francisco budget committee meeting revealed that the tent program cost $16.1 million a year to operate, which breaks down to $5K per person, more than two and a half times the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city.
The committee was shocked to learn that the city was on the hook for the cost of the entire program when Abigail Stewart-Kahn, the interim director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, revealed that the program would not be eligible for FEMA reimbursement.
The department mistakenly believed that like the hotel room program, the cost of the tent villages would be 100% covered by a federal reimbursement, but because the “Safe Sleeping” program is an outdoor encampment, it wasn’t, and San Francisco taxpayers are responsible for paying the bill.
The SF Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing currently has a $852 million budget to support the city’s estimated 8,000 homeless. Recently, the mayors of California’s top 13 largest cities demanded $20 billion to combat homelessness.
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