Lower Nob Hill homeless shelter delayed due to community backlash

Residents opposing the 131-room San Francisco shelter complain they weren’t consulted

711 Post Street and Supervisor Aaron Peskin (Google Maps, Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Board of Supervisors)
711 Post Street and Supervisor Aaron Peskin (Google Maps, Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Board of Supervisors)

A homeless shelter in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood has been delayed for another month.

City officials previously proposed converting a vacant hostel building at 711 Post Street into a homeless shelter, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The plans called for a two-year, $18.7 million contract between the city and Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit that aims to revitalize run-down neighborhoods and reduce homelessness.

The 250-bed shelter was scheduled to open in early February upon the Board of Supervisors’ approval. The board committee, however, voted unanimously to delay the proceedings due to outcries from nearby residents who argued that they weren’t adequately consulted or considered.

Another potential homeless housing project was also recently shut down due to community backlash. KHP Capital Partners, which owns the 131-room Kimpton Buchanan Hotel on Sutter Street in Japantown, had planned to sell the property to the city to serve as permanent housing for homeless people. Ultimately, KHP decided to continue operating the property as a tourist hotel.

The Post Street building, formerly known as the Ansonia Hotel, has 123 rooms ranging in size from singles to quads. Each floor is outfitted with bathrooms and showers and the building also has community lounges, a commercial kitchen and dining space.

Aaron Peskin, the supervisor who represents the Post Street area, asked the board’s budget and finance committee to revisit the proposal on Feb. 2, saying the city’s community engagement efforts have been “abysmal” so far.

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“Meaningful and real involvement with the community has been all but absent,” Peskin said. “It has been [a] box-checking government at its worst.”

Mayor London Breed’s office says the Post Street project is a crucial part of the city’s plans to address homelessness in 2022, as she and her administration aim to bring the city’s shelter system up to 2,100 beds by the end of June. Breed also has plans to create 1,500 units of permanent supportive housing for the city’s homeless population.

“Every day we delay this shelter is one where 250 people sleep on the street,” Breed tweeted after the committee delayed the Post Street contract. “We can’t let obstruction and process arguments stop us from helping people in need.”

Residents opposing the shelter said they weren’t given enough notice about the building’s potential transformation and some argue that the neighborhood has already done its fair share to serve San Francisco’s unhoused population.

“I do believe that these types of facilities are ones that we absolutely need,” Supervisor Matt Haney, who chairs the committee, said. “I also understand the need to effectively consult with the neighborhood and the absolute need to consider geographic equity as well.”

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