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2,000 more shelter beds? Lawmaker wants to boost homelessness spending

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman takes a call at a Board of Supervisors meeting in San Francisco. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

A San Francisco lawmaker is urging Mayor London Breed to prioritize funding for new homeless shelters as the city faces growing discord over homelessness and a substantial budget deficit that could cut into key services.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who has led calls for more shelter space in the city, introduced a resolution on Wednesday that asks Breed to fund 2,000 shelter beds over the next two years. The request comes as Breed and department heads hash out budget cuts in the face of an upcoming $780 million shortfall

“Shelter for all policies are the quickest, most cost-effective way to end unsheltered homelessness,” Mandelman said in a press release. “This is a policy choice other cities have already made.”

The city has prioritized acquiring housing over shelter in recent years with the goal of providing permanent solutions for people who are homeless. But a debate over the short-term effectiveness of that policy has heated up in recent months; the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing has acknowledged that there is a need for more shelter. 

Additionally, a high-stakes federal lawsuit that accused the city of illegally destroying homeless encampments without sufficient shelter space, has brought the city’s shelter shortage to the fore. 

A December injunction effectively banned the city from clearing encampments and requiring occupants to move, except to clean or enforce other laws unrelated to sitting or lodging on the street. The injunction prompted criticism from City Attorney David Chiu, who appealed the injunction on the grounds that it created an “untenable” situation.

Breed’s office wouldn’t comment on whether she supports the proposal, instead stating that she is focused on putting together her proposed budget.

David Sjostedt can be reached at

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