San Francisco’s Plan to Help the Homeless Is a Dead End

Column: Newsom rejects every local homeless plan in state, demanding more ambition and resources for cities

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Cities have all sorts of ideas on how to address the homeless problem—some have more experience, some have less, and some are dead certain that they’re the best ideas. Yet, none of them get the job done.

Cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego have been working on solutions for the homeless population for years, yet the situation has not improved. There’s even been a national movement to create a federal law outlawing “concentration camps,” and the local governments of the Bay Area have seen little change.

So when San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera suggested his own plan to solve the problem, it was met with a flurry of opposition.

“San Francisco’s plan is just another one of the city’s ideas, and it is one that San Francisco should not follow,” City Supervisor John Avalos said in an email to reporters last week.

“In fact, it is a dead end,” said Avalos, a Democratic representative who also serves on the San Francisco planning commission.

So Herrera’s staff took a public hearing on the plan—one that was supposed to have been held in December—and instead posted a notice inviting interested parties to a meeting on March 19.

“Our staff has been working so diligently in anticipation of this meeting to respond to public input and to gather evidence on the matter,” reads a message on the city attorney’s website.

But city officials canceled the meeting, and on Friday, the city attorney posted a notice announcing that a meeting to discuss the plan would be held on Monday, March 22, in San Francisco’s City Hall at 3 p.m. “Please stop in to discuss this issue and to voice your opinions” before the meeting.

For the city, it’s a test. San Francisco wants to change how it functions, so it needs a plan. But it’s also trying to do what it can to help the homeless. So should the city now go all in on that plan without testing it?

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