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San Francisco Agrees to Settlement Over Tenderloin Homeless Encampments

— June 19, 2020

The city of San Francisco and the University of California, Hastings College of Law agreed to settle a lawsuit over homeless encampments in the Tenderloin.

The University of California, Hastings College of Law announced a settlement agreement with the city of San Francisco over Tenderloin homeless encampments. As part of the settlement, the city will “remove 300 tents within weeks.” Though the agreement must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors, it was announced by UC Hastings and Mayor London Breed.

Handshake: image courtesy of geralt via Pixabay,

The suit was originally filed by UC Hastings and other merchants and Tenderloin residents back on May 4 “over increased homeless encampments and worsening street conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” According to the suit, “the number of tents in the Tenderloin, which comprises less than 50 square blocks, had more than tripled to exceed 400.” When pressured for an explanation as to the number of tents, officials with the city blamed “the increase in part on having to reduce occupancy of homeless shelters by 75 percent to comply with social distancing requirements.”

As a result of the settlement, the city of San Francisco will remove 300 tents by July 20, which is about 70% of the “total number of tents counted in the neighborhood on June 5.” Where will the residents of those tents go, though? Well, according to the settlement, the city will relocate them into “hotel rooms or to sites where people are allowed to live outside in tents in what are called safe sleeping villages.” Additionally, the city plans to implement measures to “ensure people do not set up tents again in the areas where the tents were removed,” according to the agreement. Though the city has yet to specify what those measures may entail, it acknowledged that a plan was in the works with the San Francisco Police Department and Public Works.

In the settlement announcement, the city said:

“While The City is hopeful that most people offered an alternative location will be willing to accept the opportunity, The City will employ enforcement measures for those who do not accept an offer of shelter or safe sleeping site if necessary to comply with the stipulated injunction.”

After July 20, San Francisco will continue to take strides towards reducing “tents, along with all other encamping materials and related personal property, to zero.” The agreement further states:

“The City estimates that approximately 30 percent of people currently living in tents in the Tenderloin will be eligible for an [shelter-in-place] hotel room.”

Supervisor Matt Haney with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said:

“Bringing people inside with services, mostly into hotel rooms, following the law passed by the board, should absolutely be the primary strategy. It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to get The City to follow the law, but to the extent this lawsuit actually forced the mayor and the Department of Homelessness to take this crisis seriously and bring people inside, that’s a good thing.”


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