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Newest Homeless Center To Be Built Near San Francisco Tourist Sites

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The newest navigation center for San Francisco homeless will be built just blocks from some of the city's most-visited tourist sites, according to a San Francsico supervisor.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin told KPIX 5 the mayor's office just approved a city-owned site near the intersection of Kearny and Bay, about three blocks from Pier 39. The location is within Peskin's District 3, an area which includes North Beach, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, and Russian, Nob and Telegraph Hills.

"The site is between Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Building on a former parking lot. So we're not displacing anybody," Peskin said. "There's not a lot of residential there, not a lot of commercial. Today, I began the outreach to folks in the Fisherman's Wharf business community to solicit their input and hopefully their support."

In recent months, police have arrested mentally ill homeless people in North Beach for a number of high profile crimes, including the murder of an 85-year old shopkeeper and a woman who stabbed two random people with scissors.

"There is no room for violent behavior," Peskin said. "Our police are acutely aware of it. I've been fielding those complaints.  But we are definitely going through a spate of incidents that I am hearing about from my neighbors."

San Francisco has opened a number of navigation centers designed to welcome homeless people who might be turned away from other shelters due to their belongings, partners or pets.

The centers offer intensive counseling for drugs or mental illnesses and are ultimately intended to help people find permanent housing.

Peskin said efforts to help homeless people in other parts of the city have pushed some of them people into areas they had not been before, including the densely populated, northern neighborhoods of the city where Peskin said the homeless population doubled between 2015 and 2017.

"I think it's a combination of drugs, of people who are at their wits' end and folks being displaced from large tent encampments that the city is busting up," he said. "The situation is particularly acute around the Ferry Building, but is impacting all of San Francisco and disproportionately the touristed Northeast corner of the city."

Update 9/12:

Jeff Cretan, spokesman for San Francisco Mayor London Breed, told KPIX 5 on Wednesday afternoon that no final decisions have been made on the site. Cretan said the mayor is still considering the District 3 navigation center proposal.

Peskin insisted he received support from the mayor on the funding and the site during a meeting with her early this week.

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