SAN FRANCISCO—The Tipping Point Community organization is pledging $100 million to try to cut the chronically homeless population in half over the next 5 years. It is the biggest donation of its kind ever made to San Francisco, a city that has had a long struggle with high numbers within the homeless community.
The plan is for the money to be used in order to create permanent housing for people camping on the streets, improve aid for people with mental illness along with other causes of homelessness, and help the city bring in more state and federal funding.
The last one-night homeless count released by San Francisco in 2015, found that 1,745 of San Francisco’s 6,686 indigent people were chronically homeless who lived outside for at least a year and suffered from mental illness, substance-abuse problems, or other difficulties. The money is being raised privately and will be distributed out to city agencies including the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.
San Francisco currently spends up to $265 million a year to address homelessness through police, housing, street-cleaning, counseling, as well as other programs. Nearly half of that money goes toward supportive housing, rooms or apartments for indigent people, along with counseling and other services on-site to help e homeless.
Chronically homeless people cost San Francisco taxpayers about $80,000 every year in ambulance rides, hospital stays, jail stints and other services. That’s about four times what it would cost to give them supportive housing.
City project planners are determining how much supportive housing to consider. South Van Ness Avenue hosted the recent community meeting on Thursday, May 4 over a temporary shelter being proposed. Several hundred people attended.
It was reported that in 6 months, Tipping Point has raised $60 million toward the $100 million commitment. The official launch date of the $100 million initiative is July 1, but Tipping Point has already dished out nearly $2 million.
In December, the charity gave $1.2 million to the Brilliant Corners nonprofit in San Francisco to start a program to help formerly homeless people living in supportive housing move out into less-intensive, more independent apartments.
The Tipping Point and city of San Francisco is hoping to help at least 200 people annually leave the city’s supportive housing network of 7,100 units.
Tipping Point gave $612,000 to the San Francisco Department of Public Health to add 34 beds to its Medical Respite and Sobering Center by July. The center houses former homeless addicts or people with acute medical problems for three to six months after they get out of a hospital.
Construction for new housing units can cost approximately about $450,000 apiece and take 5 years to build, but the charity and city managers are reportedly aiming to cut the price and time by using techniques like stackable modular housing units that cost half as much and take a fraction of the time to assemble.
Money raised by Tipping Point will assist in improving foster care, mental health, criminal justice release and other programs designed to keep people from having to move to the streets. The charity will pay for two outside specialists to help the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and San Francisco Supportive Housing assemble a data system to track which services homeless people use.
The city has focused on chronic homelessness in the past. Former SF Mayor Gavin Newsom created a 10-year plan in 2004 to eliminate a chronically homeless population of 3,000 people. The official count has since dropped by nearly half.
Since taking the place of Newsom, current SF Mayor Edwin M. Lee has increased the number of shelter beds by 25 percent and the number of permanent supportive housing units by 38 percent. According to city figures, 25,000 homeless people have been housed since 2003.ay