Many people, from citizens to city officials, are questioning Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to build a homeless services center in the East Village.
Faulconer proposed a central intake facility that will match the homeless with county services and get them on the track to more permanent housing to be built on 14th Street and Imperial Avenue.
He unveiled the plan during his annual State of the City address on Thursday night
Councilmember David Alvarez (D), who represents the 8th District that includes East Village, and residents of the area aren’t very excited about the mayor’s vision.
“Some folks are going to hear about this and they're going to lose it,” Alvarez said. And he was right.
“I walk my dog every day and I have to avoid all this stuff, essentially for him,” East Village resident Frank Ennis said. “So, I think they should put a new intake somewhere else.”
Joshua Williams, who works in East Village, said that struggle is an understatement when it comes to the area’s homeless.
“They don't take care of the streets,” Williams said. “They trash the place. We find needles on the ground.”
Faulconer acknowledged potential criticism of the project during his speech, saying everyone wants more homeless services as long as it’s not in their backyard.
"Those days are over," Faulconer declared. “America’s Finest City will no longer tolerate the use of a sidewalk, a riverbed or a tarp as a home.”
Homeless advocate Michael McConnell has worked with the city and homeless community for a long time, and thinks that people will just have to give the project time.
“Everyone's going to have to be patient,” McConnell said. “I think the mayor said people are going to have to work together in ways they've never worked before, and that means the people who are impacted.”
Another counter to the project is how the mayor plans to fund it.
Faulconer wants to fund it all through a convention center expansion, which could go on the ballot as a hotel tax hike this November, and that plan has already been challenged by members of City Council.