The Goal of the Healthy Streets Initiative is to get people without shelter to the right places and provide more resources to combat unsafe and unhealthy situations. The initiative focuses on five zones where tent camps frequently spring up: The Castro, Civic Center, the Mission. Showplace square and the Embarcadero. San Francisco's mayor, Mark Farrell says, “ We don’t want to just move people around. We are trying to provide placements”
Instead of city resources competing for funding and duplicating efforts, a Healthy Streets Operation Center has been created. All resources are located in the same bldg where officials and first responders gather to confront major emergencies and work with the Department of Emergency Management to respond to non emergency homelessness complaints and connect those living on the streets with health and housing services.
These officials and first responders are from the Department of Public Works, the Department of Health, the Hot Team, the Police Department and the Dept of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. The Center is organized under the Incident Command System that spells out steps for responding to emergency situations. It was started last year as a pilot by the then mayor Ed Lee. In the 28 weeks of this pilot, nearly 274,000 pounds of trash and 60000 used syringes were picked up around Civic Center and 65 to 70 percent of the people ended up accepting some form of city service. The police made 3258 arrests including 637 for alleged felonies.
With sufficient resources, the Healthy Streets Initiative has the promise of being a coordinated effort that could make a positive change for San Francisco's homeless.