How SF Will Allocate $1 Billion in Homelessness Funding


Judith Calson/San Francisco Public Press

Homelessness affects single adults as well as families.

San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is a relatively new department, but it and its budget have been growing rapidly. The newly approved city budget allocates more than $1.1 billion over two years to the department. That money will be spent on programs including placing people in housing, finding ways to keep people who are in a precarious housing situation in place, opening parking sites for people living in their vehicles, family shelters, temporary shelters and supportive services. 

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.

“Of that billion dollars, 60% of that investment is going towards housing, going towards permanent solutions. And this is not for those 8,000 people. These are for the people who are formerly homeless, and who we’ve been able to successfully move out of homelessness with supportive housing or with rental assistance. It’s not exclusively designed for those 8,000 people experiencing homelessness on a single night. We shelter and house 14,000 people every night.”

— Emily Cohen

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 102.5 FM in San Francisco, or online at, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher

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