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San Francisco Launches Sanctioned Tent Sites

Dan Brekke
San Francisco City Officials santioned a homeless encampment because of a 70% increase in homeless tents.


In trying to address the growing number of tents clogging city sidewalks, San Francisco is trying out a new unprecedented program.

San Francisco’s Civic Center is now temporarily home to 70 city-sanctioned tents, aimed at housing individuals who are homeless and keeping them safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The encampment is called a Safe Sleeping Village. It was set up in response to an increasing number of sidewalks blocked off by tents in the Tenderloin district amid the coronavirus pandemic. A recent count by the city reveals that the number of tents citywide is up by 71 percent, and in the Tenderloin, up 285 percent, since January.

Mayor London Breed explained that  in normal times they would focus on bringing people inside and would not sanction tent encampments. She says, “Having places with resources serving people in the neighborhood is better than unsanctioned encampments."


The Safe Sleeping Village tents are spaced six feet apart and sectioned off by painted square markers. Chain link fences block the street with a green tarp for privacy. There is 24 hour security on hand, seven portable toilets and two hand-washing stations. The Department of Public Works maintains the site.

The Board of Supervisors are planning additional tent village sites, including one at a former McDonald’s plot at Haight and Stanyan. 

Imran Ali Malik was a fellow in KALW's Audio Academy class of 2020. His reporting interests are design, economy, and telling stories of invisible structures and forgotten histories.