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Solving Homelessness

Solving Homelessness

Ideas for Ending a Crisis

Photo by Judith Calson // San Francisco Public Press

A humanitarian crisis has persisted on our streets for years and seems to have worsened as housing prices and rents have skyrocketed. Across the Bay Area, high-profile government and nonprofit initiatives have sought more effective ways of serving the homeless. But is it enough?

As we did in a 2014 project called “Creative Solutions to the Housing Crisis,” this package of stories explores ideas about how to do things differently, even if they are only on the cusp of mainstream consideration. This project follows on our summer 2017 issue, Which Way Home?, which looked into city government’s efforts to clear homeless encampments from the streets by putting people into navigation centers and shelters, or more often on buses to family or friends out of town.

The fall 2017 print edition of the Public Press is now available at select locations.


1. Brainstorming The Future to Help Resolve Homelessness

The Public Press is inviting specialists from several disciplines to a January community workshop on potential solutions to homelessness. Crucially, we need to engage those who have firsthand experience being homeless.

Published Oct. 23, 2017

2. No Vacancy for The Homeless IN SRO HOTELS

Dozens of residential hotels have rooms to spare, but it is a seller's market, and city officials cannot force owners to rent. At last count, 4,353 people were unsheltered in San Francisco, with 1,827 empty rooms in private SROs.

Published Oct. 23, 2017


Master leasing of single-room occupancy hotels in San Francisco has housed thousands of homeless people, and done so in hotels that are, by and large, a huge improvement over those of a generation ago. But things could be better.

Published Oct. 23, 2017

4. Private Capital Takes a Risk to House Neediest

Since their debut seven years ago, “social impact bonds” have generated $200 million in the United States and 14 other countries toward programs to reduce homelessness and related social problems. San Francisco could tap into this new funding source in the future.

Published Oct. 24, 2017

5. Comparing 4 ‘Social Impact Bond’ Projects

Santa Clara County, Denver, Massachusetts and Cuyahoga County in Ohio are experimenting with a novel solution by tapping into social impact bonds, a financing model that leverages private money to front program costs.

Published Oct. 24, 2017


6. For Alcoholics, ‘Wet Houses’ Offer a Home

Studies have found that the 1811 Eastlake project in Seattle helps keep alcoholics off the streets and out of jails and emergency rooms — and even helps them drink less. The model has saved the city millions of dollars.

Published Oct. 25, 2017


7. AT Dann’s House, ‘THEY TAKE CARE OF US’

Unlike most housing for the homeless, there’s no expectation that residents of this supportive housing in Traverse City, Michigan, will stop drinking, even on-site. The daily beer run is 9 a.m., but consumption is down.

Published Oct. 25, 2017


8. OPENING Homes TO Get Young Adults Off Streets

San Francisco has the highest percentage of unsheltered young adults in the nation — more than 1,200 between 18 and 24 years old. Host homes could get many off the streets. Would you welcome a homeless youth into your home?

Published Oct. 26, 2017


9. TimeLine: Efforts to End Youth Homelessness

Efforts to end youth homeless began in earnest in 1974, when Congress passed legislation that changed the national approach to helping at-risk youths. Here's a look at national and local initiatives

Published Oct. 26, 2017

10. S.F. Supes Eye ‘CEO Pay’ Tax To Fund Services FOR HOMELESS

Two San Francisco supervisors are taking a hard look at a Portland, Oregon, surtax that taps companies with high CEO-to- worker pay ratios and dedicates the revenue to homeless services.

Published Oct. 27, 2017


11. Community Voices: YOUR IDEAS FOR Ending Homelessness

We asked readers for their ideas on how to address homelessness in the city. Here's what they said. What would you do?

Published Nov. 1, 2017


REPORTING: Joe Eskenazi, Rishika Dugyala, Sarah Asch, Liz Enochs, Andrew Stelzer

EDITING: Michael Winter, Noah Arroyo

COPY CHIEF: Sherman Turntine

COPY EDITING: Michele Anderson, Richard Knee

GRAPHICS: Reid Brown

PHOTOGRAPHY: Sharon Wickham, Garrick Wong, Judith Calson

PRINT DESIGN: HyunJu Chappell/Magna Citizen Studio

ONLINE: John Angelico

RADIO: Andrew Stelzer

Tune in to KALW (91.7 FM) for related coverage.

This project was made possible by donations from Public Press members and the San Francisco Foundation