From homeless to housed: January Snapshot

All In Team January 13, 2022

Every month, we track the number of people who exited homelessness in San Francisco so we can determine if we are on pace to meet our housing goals for the year. Staying on top of this information helps us ask the important questions – of ourselves and others – to make sure we are doing everything possible to get people off the streets and into homes.

In November, 133 people exited homelessness in San Francisco, bringing the total number for the year to 1,283. These exits are made possible by the City’s commitment to acquiring new supportive housing. In December alone, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) announced that they had been awarded $54.7 million in State Project Homekey funds to purchase the 160-unit Panoramic Hotel, closed on the Eula Hotel, a 25-unit site intended explicitly for transition aged youth, and were in the process of seeking Board of Supervisors authorization to acquire another 100+ unit building at 835 Turk Street in District 5. 

These acquisitions reflect what this campaign has always championed — affordable housing and supportive services are critical to ending and preventing homelessness. 

But does that hold true for people with behavioral health (substance use or mental illness) conditions? The data demonstrates that it does. Study after study has proven that housing ends homelessness even for people with serious behavioral health conditions.

That being said, housing alone will not solve drug use, and drug treatment alone will not solve homelessness. We can, though, have a city where public drug use and intoxication are not the norm, by focusing on housing and services.

So, how do we get there?

As you may have seen, Mayor Breed declared, and the Board of Supervisors endorsed, a State of Emergency for the Tenderloin. The Emergency Declaration is intended to address concerns about open air drug dealing and other crimes, fatal overdoses, and the impacts of crime and drugs in the neighborhood. 

First off, it is important to note that the Tenderloin cannot be painted with one brush; it is a resilient neighborhood with residents who reflect the diversity of San Francisco and contribute to its prosperity.

Second, there has been some uncertainty about the methods that will be deployed to respond to the emergency. Media reports and statements from our elected officials have painted the initiative as a hybrid approach: More law enforcement and more resources dedicated to health care and housing. Increasing law enforcement has been celebrated in some corners and criticized in others. It is certainly not the first effort to “crack down” on crime in that area and yet many assert that crime and associated impacts on the community has gotten worse. So too, many question whether increased resources will really lead to tangible improvements for unhoused and housed neighbors alike

It is too early to know if and how the plan will be fully implemented. But, thus far, the Emergency Declaration has enabled the City to cut the red tape that slows down the hiring process so that the Department of Public Health can hire up to 200 people to support the initiative, and has paved the way for the lease of a Linkage Center— a place where residents of the Tenderloin can go to access behavioral health services. 

Taking measures to achieve treatment on demand and improved connections to housing would go a long way to realizing the vision of the Emergency Declaration: “A safer and healthier Tenderloin neighborhood with more effective connections to services for housed and unhoused residents, reduced crime and sidewalk hazards, and increased investments in long-term neighborhood coordination between City and non-City agencies.” 

The All In Campaign is always advocating for increased transparency and accountability, without which we, as the public, cannot play our role in holding our elected officials and decision-makers responsible for developing effective solutions to homelessness. So, we will closely track Plan implementation and share the results with you. We will also urge the City to track and share outcomes that reveal the true impact of this initiative – will we see a reduction in fatal overdoses? Will more people in the Tenderloin be able to access health care and housing? Stay tuned for updates!

We need you! All In is a campaign built on the people of San Francisco, and here’s how you can show up for our unhoused neighbors: 

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