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Shutdown of Civic Center tent village underway in advance of Pride festivities

Aerial view of painted squares as temporary sanctioned tent encampment for the homeless across from the City Hall amid the coronavirus epidemic on May 28, 2020. Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

City officials are demobilizing a city-sanctioned tent village at Civic Center in preparation for the comeback of Pride festivities in June.  

The encampment opened in May 2020 as a temporary solution for unhoused residents, many of whom were evicted from the city’s shared shelter spaces due to Covid outbreaks. The city is now in the process of moving tent dwellers to other shelter and shutting down the site in the coming weeks.

Denny Machuca-Grebe, spokesperson for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the city is in the process of rehousing the remaining 24 guests at the site into permanent supportive housing. Those who aren’t rehoused will be placed into one of the city’s shelters until an appropriate placement is found, Machuca-Grebe said. 

The city created the tent village, which at its peak served 159 people, after reaching a legal settlement with UC Hastings. Citing health and safety violations, UC Hastings sued the city in May 2020 after the number of sidewalk tent encampments exploded in the wake of the city’s shelter-in-place order. 

The city expects to move all the current guests at the Civic Center site by June 10, and the site will be returned to the city by June 15.  The San Francisco Pride celebration and parade are scheduled for June 25-26.  

“We always knew in the back of our minds that we had to be out of there by Pride,” Machuca-Grebe said. 

Suzanne Ford, interim executive director of San Francisco Pride, told The Standard that they didn’t put any pressure on the city to shut the site down and that they would have made arrangements to work around the tent village. 

The site, which offers portable bathrooms, showers and tents elevated by wooden pallets, cost the city $5.6 million during the fiscal year 2022 and was supervised by the nonprofit Urban Alchemy.  

Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes Civic Center, told The Standard over text that he wasn’t aware of the site’s closure but couldn’t be reached for further comment in time for publication.  

Sheila Nash, who said she’s lived on the streets for 19 years and spent the last two years in the tent village, said the city moved her into a studio unit at the Richardson Apartments on Tuesday.  

“I’ve been stuck in that camp for two years. It was horrible being in that camp,” Nash said. “Today was the first time I was actually able to go to sleep. It’s been really nice.” 

David Sjostedt can be reached at