Number of people living in Tenderloin tents have nearly tripled

New numbers from San Francisco City Hall show the number of people living in tents in the Tenderloin neighborhood has almost tripled since the start of the year.

By the city's own estimate, there are now more than 300 tents,  a 285%-increase since January. 

"Cramped, very very tight. People are edgy.  People need space," said Clinton who's homeless and lives in a tent. 

On Wednedsay, Mayor London Breed, who has been taking a lot of heat for the rapidly expanding homeless crisis during the coronavirus outbreak, unveiled a plan to address the challenge.

She rolled out a block-by-block plan that would include giving homeless people space.

Painted lines mark where a tent can be set up with six feet of social distancing on the street between the Asian Art Museum and the Main Library.

It would transform that area into a sanctioned encampment for 50 tents with services to promote hygiene.

"There will be meals, restrooms services on site. In many ways, it will be like an outdoor homeless shelter," said Jeff Kositsky, Healthy Streets Operations Center manager.   

Kositsky is overseeing the plan.  He said the city is looking at other lots in the neighborhood to use as encampment sites,"They won't be as organized.

But they'll just get people off the sidewalks and provide them with alternative places to camp."

Kositsky estimated that 100 high-risk individuals will be moved to hotels. 

Kositsky said the encampment by the Main Library should be up and running by Tuesday.

He said one reason for the increase in homeless tents is the city is not enforcing the law against setting up a tent on the street during the pandemic.

The city is being sued by Tenderloin residents, merchants and UC Hastings School of Law to force it to clean the streets, house the homeless and stop open drug use and sales.

"If I walk around, I can count a hundred homeless around the corner," said Eyad Shqair, owner of Tenderloin Midcity Market. He is not part of the lawsuit, but he wants the city to take action.

"They're becoming aggressive. They want money. They want to sit outside," said Shqair.  

Some homeless people said they welcome the city's plan to improve safety 

"It's easy to get in fights here. There's tension, a lot of tension," said Florentino, who's homeless. 

The city has already put in six manifold devices attached to fire hydrants to offer drinking water and said police are cracking down on drug dealing. 

"Come here at night, you'll see how it really is," said Stefano Gonzalez who's homeless. "There's more people out here, more drugs involved. See more people smoking. It's a whole new animal kingdom basically."