SF tent on sidewalk prohibition has been enforced 152 times

A new ordinance in San Francisco that prohibits tents and structures on public sidewalks in an effort to get homeless into housing, has been used more than 150 times since it was passed by voters in November.

Proposition Q was born of the idea that living on the streets is no way to live. It can only be utilized if the city gives a person 24 hours written notice and the offer of available shelter or housing. If a person refuses to receive help, they are asked to pack up and leave otherwise their possessions may be seized.%INLINE%

The ordinance was authored by San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell who represents District 2.

“I thought it should be the policy of San Francisco to get people out of their tents and into housing, not to condone, not to institutionalize tent encampments on our streets,” he said.

Farrell said Prop Q is in its early stages, but the city is seeing “dramatic success.”

To date, 152 Prop Q notices have been issued. The majority of people issued a notice decided to receive shelter and resources from the city and no personal property has been confiscated.

Sam Dodge, Deputy Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the notices were issued during a 6-week pilot program in the summer when beds were available at a Navigation Center homeless shelter in the Mission District.

“We had available Navigation Center beds and we were able to offer those to people experiencing homelessness, living in tents on the streets,” Dodge said. “Over 92 percent of people were taking us up on those offers and so [Prop Q] has never needed to be enforced and no one's personal property has needed to be seized.”

Elizabeth Stromer, who has lived on the streets for nearly seven years, said the encampment she lived in was swept up in July.

“I've never got a Prop Q notice and I even had a big sidewalk chalk sign that said 'what happened to Prop Q.’ What happened to our 24 hour notice and an alternative place to go,” she said.

However, Stromer did end up at a Navigation Center in the Mission District and now has her sights set on finding permanent housing.

“If we can get one more person, one more family, out of their tent and into housing that's the individual success that we’re looking for,” Farrell added. “If we can implement it on a citywide basis and see the success citywide, then we really call Proposition Q a success.”

Farrell said he’s like to continue to see more money and resources being allocated to the homeless.

There are currently about 1,900 shelter beds in San Francisco. Of the 7,500 classified as homeless, roughly half or about 4,000 are living on the streets.