An illustration with 25 panels depicting calendar pages alternating with experiences of people living in homelessness or temporary shelter while waiting to be assigned to permanent housing.

In San Francisco, Hundreds of Homes for the Homeless Sit Vacant

As of early February, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing reported 1,633 homeless people approved for housing and awaiting their turn to move in. Yet records provided by the department show 888 vacancies in its permanent supportive housing stock as of Feb. 22. Filling those empty rooms would not just cut the waiting list by more than half. It would be enough to house roughly one in every eight homeless people in the city. The homelessness department said it cannot talk about individual cases, but officials acknowledged that at least 400 people have been waiting more than a year, far beyond the department’s professed goal of placing applicants into housing 30 to 45 days after they’re approved.

A young Black man stands on a San Francisco sidewalk. Down the sidewalk behind him sit tents and strewn clothing.

SF Fires Linked to Homeless Surged as Pandemic Set In

Fires associated with homeless encampments in San Francisco rose by more than two-thirds during the first year of the pandemic, according to a Public Press analysis of the narrative texts from San Francisco Fire Department reports.

Fires are an ever-present fear for people living on the streets, where an errant spark could send flames ripping through a tent or other temporary shelter, sending its contents quickly up in smoke. Unhoused residents who have suffered through this experience report receiving little of the help available to those assisted after fires in buildings.

Photographer Captures Homelessness Crisis in ‘Division Street’

In search of a project, photographer Robert Gumpert started wandering around San Francisco. He began talking with and photographing people he encountered who were living on the street and in shelters. The resulting book “Division Street,” named after a street in the city where homeless people have often established encampments, will be released this year.  

Public Works eorkers in vests work to clear an encampment.

Report Calls SF’s Homeless Sweeps Practices Illegal

On Thursday, a damning report dropped, offering new data on San Francisco’s practice of sweeping encampments. Authored by the Coalition on Homelessness, the report alleges the Healthy Streets Operation Center regularly fails to offer an adequate number of shelter beds to people on the streets during its cleanup operations and is illegally discarding people’s belongings. The practices create serious legal risk for San Francisco.

Two doctors protest outside Mayor London Breed's house on April 30, 2020, calling for more hotel rooms to be opened for people experiencing homelessness to safely shelter during COVID-19. The one in front holds a sign reading "this is a public health nightmare."

As COVID Cases Surge Among SF’s Homeless, Shelter Options Narrow

As cases of COVID-19 surge in San Francisco, advocates question whether the city can prevent another outbreak in the homeless community. Between June 30 and July 31, confirmed cases among homeless people quadrupled from 18 to 78. But as the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the city, there is a growing shortage of safe places for homeless people to go.

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How SF Will Allocate $1 Billion in Homelessness Funding

Emily Cohen, interim director for strategy and external affairs at the department, talked with “Civic” about where these investments are being focused — more than half of the funds are earmarked for housing — and why. A count of people visibly unsheltered on the street that takes place on one night every two years tallied about 8,000 people in 2019. Cohen said city programs have helped some 25,000 people exit homelessness since 2005.

Outreach workers stand at a Tenderloin intersection wearing reflective vests and pulling a rolling cart with a sign reading “free COVID-19 vaccinations here.” This team administered 23 single-dose vaccines during an afternoon shift on Jul. 15, 2021.

Outreach Effort Brings Vaccines Directly to Tenderloin Streets

During the pandemic, Code Tenderloin has distributed everything from water to masks to food. With the arrival of the vaccine, they have collaborated with health care providers from the University of California, San Francisco and the nonprofit service provider Glide to try to overcome barriers to vaccination by walking the streets, offering immunizations on the spot.