San Francisco opens new navigation center in effort to aid city's homeless

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- One of the most potent tools in getting homeless people off of San Francisco streets are known as navigation centers and the city on Tuesday announced the opening of a second such center.

They facilities may be instrumental in helping people like Anthony Greenlee get back on their feet. He has been homeless for the past 10 years after losing his job, a reversal that ended up in him sleeping inside BART's Civic Center.

"I went into clinical depression, according to my doctors, and ended up on the street," Greenlee said.

Municipal outreach workers who are the city's foot soldiers in working with the homeless convinced Greenlee to move indoors. And now he is one of 55 homeless people staying at the city's newest navigation center, which is located inside the Civic Center Hotel.

Under recent legislation recently approved by the Board of Supervisors, the city must open six navigation centers within the next two years. City officials hope the new facility, located at 20 12th Street, will help the city get more homeless off the streets.

"This is the first place I've lived in-doors in 14 years," said Greenlee. "This is mine. I can lock the door. I have a key."

City officials say the navigation program can move entire encampments into the centers, which will provide services to meet their needs and eventually permanent shelter.

Said Jeff Kositsky, from the city's Department of Homelessness: "Navigation centers are exactly the models we should be pursuing. They're a low barrier to get into where people can come with their partner, their pets and their possessions."

San Francisco city officials have also announced a dedicated unit that will work with people living in homeless camps. The unit will try to steer people into the navigation centers.

During a recent visit to an encampment south of Market Street, several people said they would be willing to give one of the navigation centers a try.

KTVU reporter Rob Roth contributed to this report.