Healthy Street Operations Center: "Safe and Clean Streets"

  • Cecelia Mariscal SFSU


            Over the last four decades, cities have implemented several iterations of care and disciplinary programs address homelessness without success. San Francisco’s Healthy Street Operations Center (HSOC) was established in 2016 to address homelessness in San Francisco. The Healthy Street Operations Center aims to provide a coordinated response between the Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing,Department of Emergency Management, and the San Francisco Police Department. One of the main objectives of the Healthy Street Operations Center is to maintain “safe and clean”  streets for the city of San Francisco. Research suggests Healthy Street Operations Center mainly responds to the safety concerns of business and property owners, rather than the needs of unsheltered residents. 

This research utilized textual analysis of internal documents to show prioritization of San Francisco’s financial interests is transparent in the day-to-day management of homelessness. The Healthy Street Operations Center embodies sentiments of compassion for the homeless as well as attitudes of paternalism and punishment. These conflicting beliefs express themselves through the HSOC’s tactics to remove signs of poverty and homelessness from the view of business and property owners as well as the language used to justify it.

The research in this paper will show that HSOC has not achieved its goal of reducing or containing encampments. HSOC continues to be funded by the city despite its ineffectiveness, and diverts money away from viable solutions to reduce and contain homelessness.