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Ahead of Dreamforce, SF leaders working to solve homelessness crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Dreamforce starts one week from Tuesday in San Francisco, and set-up is in full swing at the Moscone Center. It’s vital for this three-day conference to go off without a hitch after the Salesforce CEO threatened to pull the conference from San Francisco if conditions don’t improve in the city.

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff is pointing to homelessness and drug use in San Francisco. Supervisor Dean Preston says he hopes his new resolution will put a real dent at least in the city’s homelessness crisis, for not only the unhoused but for the entire community. 

Dreamforce is expected to bring 40,000 people to San Francisco, providing a big boost to the local economy. But with what’s become a common sight around the city – tents crowding sidewalks and people using drugs outdoors – Salesforce fears the dream-like atmosphere they create will turn into a nightmare the second attendees leave the gates.

At the barricaded event space on Tuesday, security and police officers patrolled every surrounding block. There was little to no homeless or drug use in sight.

Preston says not to let that fool you.

“I tend to not read too much into when one block or area has fewer homeless people or more homeless people, because unless you’re housing people you’re just moving people in ways that are not helpful,” he said. “I think that is how this administration and past administrations have approached homelessness in San Francisco, of just moving people out of sight and acting like you solved the problem, and that’s why we are in this situation.”

According to last year’s point-in-time survey, more than 7,000 people experience homelessness in San Francisco. More than half of those people are without any shelter at all. 

Supervisor Preston says the city needs immediate solutions to get people off the streets. He presented a resolution Tuesday to urge the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing or HSH to fill at least half of its vacant permanent housing. The HSH dashboard shows as of August there were 1,000 vacancies.

“Urging the HSH to act quickly, get at least 500 folks into supportive housing, but also look at how to maintain a vacancy rate that’s a lot lower. We have been running at about ten percent of the units vacant. It should be no more than five percent,” Preston said. 

City supervisors Will be voting on Preston’s resolution next week. If it passes, the board will notify HSH, urging it to fill vacant housing within 90 days.

KRON4 reached out to the mayor’s office to ask if any homeless people were relocated due to the conference, but we have not yet heard back. Dreamforce is scheduled to run from Sept. 12 through 14.

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