increasing accountability ::: supporting transition ::: improving livability for all

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Box City is a transitional community of 15-20 residents living on 7th Street who have built their own secure sleep shelters out of found materials. SFHC has been organizing with residents of Box City and community partners to increase the well-being, hygiene, and safety of Box City residents & the surrounding community while supporting a path towards housing or acceptable long-term shelter.

Key features of our 1-month pilot project with Box City include (1) Provide 24/7 access to a toilet and test models of resident management; (2) Support a Cleaner and More Organized Area; (3) Increase Neighborhood Safety and Livability for Residents, Neighbors, and Local Businesses; (4) Create Incentives for Good Neighbor Accountability; (5) Assess suitability, safety, and needs of the current location; (6) Assess transition needs of residents.

Box City makes the News

Front page of the Chronicle: 9/26/2016

With the clunk of a portable toilet plopping down alongside the sidewalk at their shantytown, 20 homeless people in San Francisco began an experiment with the police and a nonprofit agency to try to improve their lives before they inevitably have to tear down their camp. The agreement with the Box City campers is that if they can take good care of the toilet and keep their settlement of a dozen hand-built shacks orderly, they’ll earn gift certificates at local businesses, and in two weeks everyone will have a barbecue together. Nobody’s calling the little spread near the Caltrain tracks at Seventh and Hubbell streets a permanent camp, and no one wants more homeless people to rush in and set up more boxes. It’s just an effort to put a bit of order into an inherently disorderly situation that is replicated daily throughout the city in more than 75 street camps. Read more . . .


24/7 Access to a toilet: The port-a-potty has a lock with a combination that is only provided to Box City Residents. It was originally placed at the South limit of Box City, but residents requested that it be moved into the middle of the village because they were concerned that someone could more easily break-in, that it would create greater safety for residents if it were in a more populated and interior area, and that it would be better to have it closer to the pregnant Box City resident. 

Supporting a Cleaner and More Organized Area: SFHC will provide trash/recycling receptacles for residents to self-manage trash, and if self-management of trash has improved  (as measured through DPW worker input) Box City will receive $250 in gift certificates at the end of the month-long pilot project (10/23/16).

Increasing Neighborhood Safety and Livability for Residents, Neighbors, and Local Businesses: SFHC Box City residents will continue to be "eyes on the street" in support of their own safety, as well as the safety of the people who live, work, and/or park near Box City. Box City residents believe that their presence along 7th Street deters car break-ins. SFHC can gather input and key partners and stakeholders - including Box City Residents, Officer Yvonne Moilanen, SFHOT, DPW workers, neighbors, local businesses, local security guards, car owners, etc. - to assess what is working, what needs improvement, and ways to measure success. As we move forward over the next month we can collaboratively develop and iterate upon the components of an "eyes on the street" neighborhood safety program for Box City.

Incentives for Good Neighbor Accountability At the end of every two weeks, if the Port-a-Potty is clean and well-managed SFCLT will host a BBQ for residents; Gift certificates totaling $750 (for building materials, off-site laundry, hygiene, food preparation, and other shared transition village needs) will be decided upon through group input at the end of a successful first month of Port-a-Potty maintenance. 

Location Obviously this is not an ideal living area for the 15-20 residents since the train goes right by up until 2AM, but it is a place that they have been living in community for months. If there was another location that was more ideal for Box City to relocate their 15-20 residents they would be interested in hearing about it and working together, but it seems like a great location to try out providing more services and creating more accountability on both ends (meaning both the city and the encampment residents) because it is an unused plot of land and the residents are very community-minded, reasonable, and cooperative.