Shelter in Place Hotels: Will We House Everyone by October?

Chris Block February 17, 2021

Late last year, there was great urgency in the Homelessness Response System to house as many people as possible. At one point the goal was 500 people by December 15. It  was time for all of us to put our foot on the gas, the pedal to the metal. 

Unfortunately, we forgot to put the car in drive and instead we put the car in reverse and drove really fast—backwards. We are trying to significantly scale our housing efforts in San Francisco without a significantly different way of doing business, and that won’t work.

In the same way that you train for a marathon differently than a 5k race, you don’t scale up a  Homelessness Response System by operating as if your goal is not significantly harder and more intense.  

In a marathon, you intentionally set milestones for how you will run the first part of the race as well as the middle stages, and these phases are often run at different speeds. You ask yourself resource questions, “How much do I need to eat at what point in the race to sustain the pace and reach my destination in the allotted time?” 

Most importantly, you measure your progress along the way to achieving the clearly defined goal that you established at the beginning of the race. 

The Homelessness Response System is running a marathon over the next 18 months, (the time outlined in the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan). There needs to be a plan to get to the finish line. 

The first part of that program is the Shelter-In-Place Rehousing Plan (“SIP Plan”) which is currently being implemented, albeit very slowly. The SIP Plan has four phases, ending October 31, 2021, by which time all 2,000 SIP hotel guests will be rehoused. In January 2021, HSH  began providing the San Francisco Board of Supervisors weekly progress reports on its SIP Rehousing Plan, and shortly after HSH debuted a webpage featuring dashboards and narrative updates on the plan. 

The reports and site contain a great deal of useful information. What is  difficult to ascertain, however, is our collective progress toward the most significant measure of success: the number of people who have moved into housing compared to the number committed to in the SIP Rehousing Plan. 

Without regular analysis of  progress toward goals, we risk losing sight of what is most important: are we on track to house 2,000 SIP hotel guests by October 31, 2021? And, if we are not on track, what can we do to get on track before the fall?

Each month, we will report the progress that we are making against the SIP Rehousing Plan.  Follow us to learn more about this critical effort.

When we ask the hard questions and demand answers, we will make the Homelessness Response System more transparent and accountable to meeting its goals.  And that means the lives of thousands of our neighbors will be forever changed when they finally have a permanent place to call home.