SAN FRANCISCO—On November 19, the Mayor of San Francisco the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC), and Episcopal Community Services (ECS) announced the opening of the Interfaith Winter Shelter program. In its 33rd year, the Interfaith Winter Shelter program opened November 21, increasing shelter capacity for people experiencing homelessness during the difficult winter season. This year, the shelter will transition among four religious facilities with meals prepared and served by multiple congregations.
“As we continue to move forward with our Homelessness Recovery Plan and create thousands of new housing placements for homeless residents, there is still the immense need for everyone to do their part to provide immediate shelter for people to go to,” said Mayor Breed. “During the difficult winter season, it is our responsibility as a city and community to ensure that everyone has a safe and warm place to sleep at night. I want to thank our local faith organizations for opening their doors and making this program possible.”
The Interfaith Winter Shelter program is a seasonal, overnight-only congregate shelter operated by Episcopal Community Services, in partnership with the San Francisco Interfaith Council and HSH, that will start operating until March 26, 2022.
The program will rotate to multiple host site locations including Canon Kip Senior Center, Saint Mary’s Cathederal, Trinity St. Peters Episcopal Church, and First Unitarian Universalist Church. Each location will have a different cot layout and capacity based on the dimensions of the space. Capacity will range from 20 to 67 cots per site. Due to COVID-19, the program will not accept any self-referrals for this year. All cots will be allocated through HSH’s centralized guest placement team. Referrals will be made by SFHOT and HSOC.
The program will serve anyone in need of shelter, providing two meals a day, with dinner service mostly provided through Interfaith and coordinated volunteers.
“For over three decades the Interfaith Winter Shelter has been an essential element in San Francisco’s response to homelessness. Nevermore has the need to shelter and feed our City’s most vulnerable and at-risk residents been more critical than during this pandemic,” said Michael Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council. “The San Francisco Interfaith Council is grateful for its partnership with the SF Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), Episcopal Community Services (ECS) staff and Canon Kip facility, host sites St. Mary’s Cathedral, Trinity/St Peter’s Episcopal Church, and the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, and the numerous and diverse communities of faith and organizations that prepare and serve meals to our guest clients. Their selfless contributions amidst COVID-19’s uncertainties and challenges gives hope to those who otherwise would suffer on our streets during these most inclement winter months.”
The Interfaith Winter Shelter Program will adhere to COVID-19 public health guidance for congregate-style shelters that includes but is not limited to:
-Physical distancing of 6 feet between individuals
-Face coverings will be provided and are required to be worn by guests and staff
-Enhanced cleaning processes
-Access to handwashing and sanitation stations
-Enhanced food safety practices
ECS has provided services for the Interfaith Winter Shelter for the last 33 years and is funded by HSH to provide services at the 2021-2022 Interfaith Winter Shelter Program.
“The Interfaith Winter Shelter Program is a critical part of San Francisco’s strategy to expand resources to our unhoused neighbors’ during the cold season. Increased access to shelter means that more people experiencing homelessness have a safe and warm place to lay their heads at night and receive meals and other services to help get them through the season,” said Beth Stokes, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services. “We are grateful to our partners at the Interfaith Council and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing for their ongoing support and are proud to have served our community through this partnership for over 30 years.”
“I am deeply grateful to the San Francisco Interfaith Council, Episcopal Community Services and the faith community for once again meeting the challenges of a difficult year, to provide expanded congregate shelter capacity and warm meals this winter,” said Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “With our partners, this winter we will continue to offer each guest dignity, meals and connection to the City’s Homelessness Response System.”
For more details about the 2021-2022 Interfaith Winter Shelter Program, visit: hsh.sfgov.org/services/the-homelessness-response-system/shelter/emergencyshelter/.