SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco announced a $30 million initiative on Friday, December 9 that will eliminate family homelessness in the city by 2019.
The Heading Home Campaign is a public-private partnership with $20 million already in the bank and operates in conjunction with Hamilton Families—an organization that provides housing assistance to families—and local philanthropists like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who is challenging others to match his $10 million donation.
“This is very straightforward,” said Marc Benioff, who with his wife, Lynne, are among the major donors to the effort. “It will happen.”
The Heading Home Campaign aims to eradicate family homelessness by expanding existing efforts to provide rapid rehousing, providing support and rent subsidies to keep families off of the streets and out of shelters permanenty, said Department on Homelessness and Supportive Housing director Jeff Kositsky.
“This is almost unbelievable in this city, in this country, and it’s a tragedy that affects all of us,” Kositsky said. “The very notion that children in San Francisco tonight have nowhere to sleep hurts my heart.”
Last year, the city placed 237 homeless families into permanent homes through rapid rehousing; even so, approximately 1,800 public school children are from homeless families and live in unstable situations, like shelters, single-room occupancy hotels, cars or sometimes the streets. Homeless families in San Francisco have to wait up seven months for services and spend an average of 414 days homeless; the city wants to clear the backlog by the fall 2018 and reduce the maximum time a family spends homeless to 90 days.
The Heading Home Campaign aims to thwart family homelessness by building an additional 350 units of permanent and subsidized housing for such families and expanding on strategies that have proven successful in helping homeless families find stability.
“The city has been trying to tackle homelessness in so many ways for so many years,” said Mayor Ed Lee at a news conference to announce the initiative, held at at a city-subsidized family housing complex on Fourth Street. “The efforts have been helpful, but certainly still not enough.”