Shireen McSpadden, Noelle Simmons, and Cynthia Nagendra, new leaders of San Francisco's homelessness agency.

Multiple Challenges Confront New Leaders at SF Homelessness Department

The selection of Shireen McSpadden to lead the city’s homelessness department is being greeted optimistically by officials who have dealt extensively with San Francisco’s chronic inability to find shelter for all its residents.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Joe Wilson, a prominent advocate for homeless people, said they were encouraged by the choice of McSpadden, who is set to take over May 1 — becoming the fourth person to hold the role in 14 months.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing was founded in 2016 by former Mayor Ed Lee, who consolidated programs that had been scattered throughout different departments and brought them all under one roof with the promise of ending homelessness for 8,000 San Franciscans in four years.

Chris Block speaks at a podium in front of a projector screen

SF Creates New Office Tasked With Relocating Homeless Hotel Residents

A new city agency, founded in the wake of rising concerns about the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s ability to house the city’s homeless population, aims to bring 2,000 people into permanent shelter by the end of the year.

The new Office of Housing Opportunities will be a division of the COVID Command Center, shifting responsibilities away from the Department of Homelessness. Chris Block, formerly the director of the chronic homelessness division at Tipping Point, a nonprofit focused on battling poverty and homelessness, is directing the effort.

People living on the streets of San Francisco, like the residents of these tents, will have a higher likelihood of accessing housing due to a new ordinance.

Hundreds More Homeless People Could Get Housing Under Emergency Policy

More than 600 people living on San Francisco’s streets could soon get placed in permanent supportive housing.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an emergency ordinance that lifts restrictions on
who can access this type of shelter, which includes services like mental health and substance use treatment and employment assistance.

Abigail Stewart-Kahn, interim director of San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Advocates Press SF to Fill Supportive Housing Vacancies With People Living on Streets

San Francisco should move people living on the streets to the top of the list for permanent supportive housing, advocates and service providers said Tuesday.

The current system of setting aside all available housing units specifically for homeless people living in shelter-in-place hotels is not proving effective, advocates and city officials said at a hearing of the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance committee.

A crochet white teddy bear peeks through the window of a family home in the Ingleside neighborhood. The teddy bear wears blue scrubs, a stethoscope and a mask. As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year, evictions have resumed, and the city’s most vulnerable are bearing the brunt.

Despite Pandemic, New Wave of Court-Ordered Evictions Displacing Poor Tenants

After an eight-month pause, court-ordered evictions in San Francisco have resumed, and they’re coming down hardest on some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. The Sheriff’s Department has conducted evictions at 33 addresses across the city since November 2020, according to documents obtained through a California Public Records Act request. More than half — 18 — involved tenants in permanent supportive housing.

The Seneca Hotel, which offers permanent supportive housing for homeless people, has 27 vacant rooms.

1 in 10 SF Housing Units for Homeless Sit Vacant

Nearly one in every 10 of San Francisco’s permanent supportive housing units — earmarked for people experiencing homelessness — is now sitting empty. The number of vacant units has climbed 58% since September and now represents 9.9% of the permanent supportive housing stock.