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Mayor Lee Launches Navigation Center to Help Homeless Residents Access Services & Housing
First-of-its-Kind One-Stop Navigation Center to Help Homeless Access Homeward Bound, Social Services & Housing; New $3 million Donation through San Francisco Interfaith Council Funds Navigation Center
Posted Date: 3/5/2015
Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the wrap up of construction of the City’s new Navigation Center, a pioneering approach 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. The pilot program is anticipated to last eight to 18 months. The Navigation Center is located at 1950 Mission Street in the Mission District with the first clients scheduled to move in the week of March 16th.

“We are providing hope and opportunity for people by removing the barriers that keep them on the streets and from accessing critical services and housing that will help them turn their lives around,” said Mayor Lee. “The Navigation Center is a new approach to the challenge of homelessness in our City and will connect people with the many nationally recognized and effective programs we know work. I would like to thank the Interfaith Council for their partnership, working with the Board of Supervisors and our City Departments, to launch this innovative center.”

The Navigation Center will provide comprehensive services and programs for the adult homeless population. It will provide beds, showers and meals at one location where staff will be on hand to assess their needs for health care, substance abuse and mental health treatment; help them access benefits; and move them into more stable housing and rehabilitation programs or reunite people with their families through the successful Homeward Bound program. The pilot project is aimed at people living on the streets. What makes it different from other shelters is that the Navigation Center will be able to accommodate entire homeless encampments at once, allowing people to stay with their community, keep their pets with them and bring along their belongings.

The plan calls for sheltering no more than 75 people at a time. Clients are expected to stay between three and 10 days before moving on to housing or residential treatment. The San Francisco Department of Public Health and the City’s Human Services Agency will provide the on-site services.

A $3 million donation from the San Francisco Interfaith Council will fund the first year of the Navigation Center pilot, providing 24/7 counselors to intake new clients, provide meals and safe shelter, and connect homeless people with critical social services. As part of the donation, $1 million will fund the master leasing of Single Room Occupancy units around the City. These SROs will provide supportive housing opportunities for homeless clients who successfully transition out of the Navigation Center. The Human Services Agency is the lead department for SRO master leasing.

“What better way to honor our Council’s 25-year mission of serving the homeless than to assist in facilitating funding for this critical public-private partnership to provide immediate and direct benefit to those most vulnerable on our City streets,” said San Francisco Interfaith Council Executive Director Michael Pappas.

San Francisco Public Works designed and, working with a private contractor, built and landscaped the complex. Work began in December to transform the former San Francisco Unified School District property. The complex includes dormitories, bathrooms and showers, a dining room and kitchen and laundry facilities.

“We are honored to have worked on this project, to create a space that gives people a meaningful alternative to living on the streets,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, whose staff spends considerable resources cleaning up encampments.

“The Center is designed as a one-stop location for people to get off the streets into a safe environment, where everyone can get focused attention on what they need,” said Mayor’s Office of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships & Engagement Director Bevan Dufty. “In creating the Navigation Center, we listened to what people said they wanted and needed to move off the streets – a place where they could bring their dogs and possessions, where they could stay with their partner, with their friends.”

In addition to the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Health and the Human Services Agency, other key City partners include the Planning Department, the Department of Building Inspection, the Department of Animal care and Control, Recreation and Parks Department, and Adult Probation.

“The assistance provided at the Navigation Center will provide the opportunity for the longest-term street homeless to move from their encampments on the street into services and housing and on the path towards permanently ending their cycle of homelessness,” said Human Services Agency Director Trent Rhorer.

The Navigation Center site, which once housed Phoenix Continuation High School, is set to be developed with a new affordable housing complex that will be included in Mayor Lee’s goal of building or rehabilitating 30,000 homes over six years, with half intended for low- and middle-income San Francisco residents.