SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, November 10, the Mayor’s Office of San Francisco revealed that the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC), and Episcopal Community Services (ECS) announced the return of San Francisco’s Interfaith Winter Shelter program. The initiative with the involvement of various faith communities offers shelter and other services like hot food and mobile showers to individuals experiencing homelessness during the winter.
The program is in its 35 year and will run from November 10, 2023, through Sunday, March 24, 2024. Shelter capacity is expected to increase by 30 to 80 beds per night depending on each site’s space. For this year, the shelter will rotate between five different locations, each represented by a different faith community, to provide prepared meals and beds in preparation for the winter season.
As stated in a press release from the mayor’s office, the city of San Francisco provides shelter and housing to over 16,000 homeless and formerly homeless individuals each night of which over 3,000 are in shelters. In the past five years, San Francisco has added over 1,100 beds to its shelter portfolio, a nearly 50 percent increase. During that same time, San Francisco helped over 10,000 people transition out of homelessness.
The Interfaith Winter Shelter program is a seasonal, overnight-only (from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.) congregate shelter operated by ECS in partnership with SFIC and HSH. The program rotates between the Canon Kip Senior Center, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, St. Mark’s Lutheran, and First Unitarian Universalist Church. Placements will be on a “first come, first served” self-referral basis. HSH funds services for the program.
“What we initially thought would be a one-year emergency shelter is, this November, entering its 35th season,” stated SFIC Executive Director Michael Pappas. “The San Francisco Interfaith Council is grateful that our city’s communities of faith and religious institutions can offer those in the greatest of need safe and welcoming shelter, home cooked meals, love and dignity, during the coldest and rainiest months of the year.”
“Expanding our shelter capacity during the winter season is a vital service which ensures that vulnerable people experiencing homelessness have a safe respite during the coldest months of the year,” said Episcopal Community Services Executive Director Beth Stokes. “The winter shelter is a quintessential San Francisco story of collaboration between the city, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based institutions, and Episcopal Community Services is proud to have supported this partnership for over 31 years.”
Dinner and breakfast will be served each day during the 2023-2024 Interfaith Winter Shelter Program. All sites will welcome all genders and accept self-referrals, ages 18 years and older. Families and unaccompanied minors cannot be accommodated and are encouraged to find other shelter options here.
For more details, including dates and hours of operation for each site visit: hsh.sfgov.org/services/how-to-get-services/accessing-temporary-shelter/ or call the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (SFHOT) at (628) 652-8000.