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San Francisco Deals With Growing Homeless Encampments In Mission District

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – After San Francisco took homeless encampments down earlier this year, many have moved to the Mission District.

"We are in crisis mode," Supervisor David Campos told KPIX 5. "I've lived in San Francisco for many years. I've never seen it this bad."

The city says there are about 100 homeless people living in tents in the central Mission, more encampments than anywhere else in San Francisco.

• ALSO READ: Former Mayor: Use Mothballed Aircraft Carrier To House Homeless

"We've seen an increase in encampments in the Mission district between 14th street and 19th street and South Van Ness and Harrison," said Sam Dodge, deputy director of the city's Department of Homelessness and Supportive housing.

To deal with the crisis, the city now says it's going to take down every single tent encampment.

"To try to go person by person, offer everyone at least shelter so that we can resolve an encampment," Dodge said.

Greg Schuler, who lives in the Mission District, expressed skepticism about the plan. "I'll believe it when I see it," he said. "I've called the police multiple times. I've called everybody that I could. And these encampments here have been here since early July."

• ALSO READ: Our San Francisco Homeless Project Reports

The tents have been popping up ever since the Super Bowl. The city left them alone for a while, then took some down. They were chased out of South of Market, so they've moved to the Mission District, and brought with them an uptick in crime.

"These are human beings and we have to be compassionate, but we also have to be smart about it," Campos said. "We moved them out of Division Street only to push them down the street, and that's not a solution. We want to make sure we don't do that again."

By all accounts, the navigation center on Mission and 16th is helping many homeless people get inside apartments.

"I'm getting housing and I'm very grateful about it," said Demetrius Charleston.

But it also has its issues. The sidewalk in front is crowded most nights. One person, who did not want his identity revealed, told KPIX 5 that people were smoking crack and shooting heroin on the street.

The city says it's part of a longstanding street scene; unrelated to the homeless inside.

"Sixteenth and Mission, long before there was a navigation center there, was not a place of angels, it's a place of broken dreams. Right? And there's a lot of drug dealing that's happened there for decades," Dodge said.

The city says they're not going to just let the encampments take root anymore. The new plan is to take down every tent, and in the process, try to get the homeless people into housing.

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