President’s message: SCNA board feels shelter proposal is worth trying

The SCNA board voted at its April meeting to support the city’s plan to construct a temporary homeless shelter at the proposed Broadway/X Street location.

Recognizing that this position has thoughtful supporters and detractors, we present answers to some reasonable questions about this vote and the neighborhood association’s consideration of the difficult and competing issues related to the shelter.

Why did the SCNA board support the establishment of the center at the X-Alhambra location?

Most people agree that encampments of tarps and tents along the freeway have been increasing in number and size. It feels as if the number of homeless people living in and adjacent to our neighborhood is growing. The significant challenges for all parties struggling from the effects of chronic homelessness are staggering. Business and homes are impacted.

Addiction and mental health issues suffered by many on the streets, a lack of available and concentrated resources, and negative interactions between some of our local businesses and neighbors with some of the people living along the freeways have created a perfect storm of tension and frustration.

That makes the climate right for a solution, and we believe that Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s call for the council districts to establish triage centers throughout the city is a thoughtful, reasonable and important attempt at a solution.

What do we think are the benefits to the Curtis Park neighborhood?

Since it appears there already are dozens of homeless people living in and around Curtis Park, placing a shelter near to where these people are, providing services for them, and ideally giving them a path toward greater health and shelter is a benefit for our neighborhood. We are hopeful that the city’s Pathway to Health Program and establishment of triage shelters will help the people on the streets who are suffering and also our local business people and neighbors whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted in the absence of solutions.

Do we see any potential drawbacks?

We understand the sensitivity of locating homeless shelters and services; doing so adjacent to residential and burgeoning business corridors is probably not anyone’s first choice. However, we trust the city’s commitment to addressing anticipated negative consequences. As identified in the good-neighbor policy, issues such as cleanliness, noise and other nuisances will be addressed, security and safety at the shelter site and in the adjacent neighborhoods will be funded and the city and service providers will be held accountable for delivering to the best of their abilities.

We accept the possibility that the Broadway/X Street site may not work out as planned. We accept that more services are needed for families with children. We recognize that there is no magic-wand solution. But we are ready to try something different, because what we are doing is not working.

We support the city’s efforts to implement a proven, reasonable and cost-effective opportunity that stands to benefit all of us. We look forward to learning more and remaining engaged as the shelter programs become reality.



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