SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A man once vilified for a vicious rant about San Francisco’s homeless, now wants to help them.
He’s teamed up with a former mayor in hopes of getting them some unusual housing.
It could mean their ship has finally come in.
Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos said, “The problem is, the pipeline is plugged. The ground pipeline is plugged, and the answer — put it off on the dock.”
From his porch overlooking the bay, Agnos has long seen a solution to the very expensive prospect of housing thousands of homeless in the city.
“Why not use a decommissioned military ship or a rented cruise ship to put people in a far more sanitary place and get them off the streets of our city,” Agnos said.
Also on board with the nautical housing idea is Greg Gopman, the startup CEO whose rant against the homeless made headlines around the world in 2013.
Gopman said “I think it’s the best solution the city’s seen in over 30 years.”
He said, “I think people need to demand more from the city, we’re too used to this problem just being how it is.”
These days, he’s an advocate for more aggressive solutions.
“Homelessness will only get solved by housing people outside the city — or on a boat,” Gopman said.
But there are significant hurdles. For example, use a powered boat and you run into a fleet of maritime regulations.
“You know you could use a barge,” Gopman said.
And here’s the thing with a barge, you need a place to park it and a parked barge technically becomes “bay fill” and that requires the blessing of the BCDC, the State Lands Commission, the Port Authority and the Coast Guard.
Agnos said, “Well all of these things need to be worked out, but clearly, there is nothing more maritime than having a ship on which people will live.”
This is an idea the city has considered.
Jeff Kositsky with the San Francisco Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing said, “We need to look at as many tools as we can come up with.”
And while they haven’t ruled it out, it is seen as a complicated approach.
“If the city gets behind it – it’s all easy,” Gopman said.
Or, as Agnos describes it, “It’s a navigation center, on water.”
San Francisco did house a number of homeless people on a U.S. Navy carrier in the days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, an emergency measure that only lasted several weeks.