The City of San Francisco has launched a new Family Homelessness Initiative to ensure that families with elementary school children never have to spend a night on the street due to lack of available shelter or housing.
Mayor Ed Lee has directed the city’s Human Services Agency to work with the San Francisco Unified School District, the philanthropic community, and community partners to present a plan for inclusion in his upcoming FY 2016-17 budget, with the stated multi-year goal of clearing the existing family shelter waitlist and creating a system to assist homeless families with elementary school-aged children.
Mayor Lee last week announced the Home for the Holidays initiative, which will immediately serve 50 homeless families who are either in shelter or on the waiting list for shelter, at a cost of $500,000 in the current year.
Current data shows that 104 families with at least one elementary school student are homeless or under-housed, doubled up, or living in shelters.
“Family homelessness has devastating consequences on children, and we must do everything we can to get families living in precarious situations immediate supportive services and put them on a path to long-term housing,” said Mayor Lee. “No matter the cause, our response must be swift and impactful. In San Francisco, the world’s greatest City, we must ensure that all families have safe and stable housing so they can succeed.”
The Mayor’s Family Homelessness working group will consist of the Human Services Agency, the Mayor’s Office of HOPE, San Francisco Unified School District, homeless service providers, and business and philanthropic partners.
“Without secure and consistent food and shelter, it is especially challenging for children to show up at school and learn,” said SFUSD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “We are eager to further partner with the City to coordinate around the identification of homeless elementary children and to help ensure homeless families have access to the resources they need. Working together, it is possible to end homelessness for our City’s youngest children and their families.”
As the multi-year plan is being crafted, the Mayor is ensuring that currently homeless families receive immediate increased support. The Mayor and the Human Services Agency have identified funding to begin serving 50 homeless families who are either in shelter or on the waiting list for shelter through the Home for the Holidays initiative, at a cost of $500,000 in the current year.
Additionally, the existing housing voucher program will be expanded to serve 70 more families in the shelter system throughout the course of the fiscal year. The full cost of the expansion to 120 families will total $5 million over the next two years.
The 2015-2016 Fiscal Year City budget included $36.5 million in support for homeless families. Most of this funding is General Fund support for shelter, supportive housing, and eviction prevention. The City’s successful efforts notwithstanding, the waitlist for family shelter still includes 133 families, requiring a greater and more sustained response.
The short-term actions announced last week through Home for the Holidays will provide stable housing to 50 of these families by the end of 2015. Through a $500,000 Human Services reallocation in the current budget year, the City will provide these families with rental subsidies and other assistance to help them get into stable housing.