London Breed launches plan to tackle homelessness

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by Tara Moriarty

London has a special bond with children, knowing how hard it can be to grow up when your family is barely getting by. The elders who watched her grow up in Plaza East, a huge high-rise public housing development, say they all could see she was special even when she was the size of these children, and they did all they could to encourage her.

San Francisco – Board of Supervisors President and candidate for mayor London Breed has announced an aggressive plan to address San Francisco’s homelessness crisis, focused on building more housing, more quickly; preventing those who are currently housed from falling into homelessness; improving street behavior and offering more services for addiction and mental health issues; and getting tent encampments off the street.

“The City’s homelessness crisis and the dangerous conditions we see on our streets every day aren’t just failures of public policy; they undermine what it means to be San Francisco,” Breed said. “The City of Saint Francis should never let thousands of people shiver in the cold or endure illness and addiction alone on the streets.”

Breed’s Platform on Homelessness, the third in a series of comprehensive policy platforms she has issued in recent weeks, can be found here.

“Walking the streets of San Francisco can be a frightening, demoralizing, even unhealthy experience for residents and tourists alike,” Breed said. “A report last month declared our streets dirtier than some of the world’s worst slums, and we all witness the smells and sights to prove it. If not for the diligence of our street cleaning crews and public health workers, the City probably would have already experienced a deadly Hepatitis A outbreak like San Diego did last year.”

“The City’s homelessness crisis and the dangerous conditions we see on our streets every day aren’t just failures of public policy; they undermine what it means to be San Francisco,” Breed said. “The City of Saint Francis should never let thousands of people shiver in the cold or endure illness and addiction alone on the streets.”

Among the many detailed plans and highlights in Breed’s plan is a commitment to end long-term tent encampments within one year of taking office.

“We can’t have people sleeping in tents, living in dangerous conditions or visibly suffering from mental illness or addiction on the street. It’s not safe for the person living on the street, and it’s not safe for our residents and businesses,” Breed said. “When I’m Mayor, we will end long-term encampments during my first year in office.”

Because of the importance of addressing homelessness and out-of-control street behavior, the London Breed for Mayor campaign has just launched a TV campaign advertisement highlighting her experience and plans.

“I was raised in public housing by my grandmother,” Breed says in the ad. “I achieved the improbable dream of becoming Supervisor and Acting Mayor. But others are being left behind. My plan to help the homeless. Thousands of new homes, more modular housing, improve mental health and addiction services.”

“We can’t have people sleeping in tents, living in dangerous conditions or visibly suffering from mental illness or addiction on the street. It’s not safe for the person living on the street, and it’s not safe for our residents and businesses,” Breed said.

Breed, a native of San Francisco’s notorious Plaza East housing projects, graduated from Galileo High School and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and master’s from the University of San Francisco. She has dedicated her entire career to public service.

Highlights of Board President London Breed’s “Bold Approach to Homelessness” include:

  1. Keep People Housed
  • Build 5,000 new homes per year during her term
  • Pass and fund a “Right to Civil Counsel” to help residents avoid eviction
  • Expand rental subsidies
  • Protect existing affordable units from converting to expensive market rates when their “affordability covenants” expire
  1. Improve Mental Health & Addiction Treatment and Address Street Behavior
  • End long-term tent encampments within one year of taking office
  • Pass my conservatorship reform legislation to get people off the streets and into treatment
  • Open safe I.V. injection facilities and stop sidewalk I.V. drug use and needles
  • Expand street medicine teams
  • Put nurses back in schools to help identify mental health issues early
  1. Create More Exits to Stable Housing
  • Write and pass a $50 million General Obligation bond to build modular homes for the homeless, quickly, efficiently and without raising taxes
  • Build an LGBT Navigation Center and create a host-home subsidized housing program specifically for LGBT youth
  • Audit the nonprofits and city departments currently providing homeless services, to ensure we are spending our money wisely
  • Use $1 state and federal land to build shelters quickly, so that we always have an alternative to living on the street to offer

A key part of Breed’s plan is the passage of the Housing For All ballot measure, which she co-authored, to generate $1 billion to build more than 2,000 homes for middle income families and hundreds more homes to help move homeless people off our streets. Housing for All will also stabilize current renters in their apartments to help prevent homelessness in the first place.

“We cannot allow people to live in unhealthy conditions on our streets, especially young people,” Breed said.

San Francisco’s homeless population is disproportionately LGBT, particularly among young homeless people. Some 30 percent of the City’s homeless identify as LGBT, and among those under the age of 25, an astounding 49 percent identify as LGBT, almost four times higher than the general public in San Francisco.

“We must intervene to protect women and families, so they do not end up on our streets,” Breed said.

Families with children represent nearly one out of every 10 homeless people in San Francisco. These families are disproportionately headed by single women; 40 percent have experienced domestic violence, which is often the primary cause for their homelessness.

“We cannot allow our streets to become zones of despair for people who need our help,” Breed said.

Some 68 percent of homeless people report having one or more health conditions, including chronic physical illness, disabilities, substance abuse problems or mental health issues.

“With commitment and the right investments, we can create a San Francisco where no one is forced, relegated or allowed to sleep on the streets, and where no one endures addiction or mental illness on the streets,” Breed said. “We can change this homelessness crisis. We must change it. And as your Mayor, I will do everything I can to see that we do.”

To learn more about London’s Housing, Public Safety and Homelessness platforms, go to www.LondonforMayor.com.

Tara Moriarty, journalist and advocate, can be reached at tara@londonformayor.com.

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