San Francisco Mayor-Elect London Breed’s aggressive plans for housing and homelessness

Photo credit: London Breed for Mayor campaign.


London Breed is the first African-American woman to become San Francisco’s mayor. She’ll be sworn in next month. She’s 43 years old. She grew up in San Francisco, and worked in government for years. Housing and homelessness are big issues she’ll be tackling.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Clearing out tent encampments

Breed: Within my first year of taking office, we can clear out all of the tent encampments, which also provide opportunities for those who are living in these encampments, whether it’s one of our shelter beds, our navigation centers, our single-room occupancy hotels. Sadly, many of the people that we did encounter have challenges with addiction and with mental health issues.

Whether there are enough beds for the homeless

There are not enough beds right now today. But I do think that based on what our plans are that there could be… What I’m really proud of is the fact that we opened up a new building for 70 formerly homeless veterans. And my goal is to identify what is available, and how we can start to open the doors to individuals. But the other side of that is once someone is stabilized, once they’re housed, how do we transition them into something else, so that we can also have available opportunity to someone else who sadly is experiencing homelessness. And so there’s a move-on program.

What happens if someone refuses to leave the tent encampment

We go out there to try and develop relationships to understand the situation that people are in, and making it clear that we want to help you. We want to address your needs. If we provide an alternative, and you refuse, we want you to know in the next couple weeks or months, we’re going to still clear out this area.

The median home price in San Francisco is $1.6 million, and the average 1-bedroom rent is about $3000/mo. How will Breed prevent people from leaving the city or becoming homeless?

I have a really aggressive plan around housing. Everything is going to be about building more housing, building more housing faster, and building a real housing ladder for low, moderate, and middle-income residents. And we have to look at underutilized sites all over San Francisco. And we can’t be afraid of an increase in density.

If a homeless person is deemed sufficiently mentally ill, would Breed force them into a conservatorship?

Yes. And I’ll give you an example. There is a person who is a senior citizen. He’s a schizophrenic. He is in the Haight Ashbury community. And sadly, every time he cashes his check, he gets robbed. He doesn’t take medication. He’s had situations with lice and other health issues. And he does not have anyone who’s taking care of him, so he gets arrested from time to time. And he’s in and out of the jail. So the jails in essence sadly are being used to address his issues. And it’s not helping him.

It’s one thing for someone who knows how to take care of themselves and make the right decisions about their life. It’s another thing for someone who just completely does not have the ability to do that and just really needs what is in essence someone who is a guardian or a caretaker who can make good decisions on their behalf. And that’s what this is about.

Proposing safe injection sites

I truly believe that this is an opportunity to potentially get needles off the streets, to get people off the streets from shooting up publicly. But more importantly, when someone who is suffering from addiction, and they’re ready to get treatment, they’re ready to get help, having detox or treatment on demand within these facilities is going to be an important part of the equation. So I think it’s something that could be really effective and help us to address the challenges that we’re experiencing — not just in San Francisco, but all over the country with this opioid crisis. And I just think that we have to step outside the box if we’re going to solve these issues. And I’m committed to doing just that.