A Budget Victory for Homeless ServicesAugust 10th, 2012
by Colleen Rivecca
(Pictured: Advocates for homeless services gather in City Hall after talking to Board members about increasing funding for shelter and homeless prevention programs.)
On July 24, 2012, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a budget that does something that we haven’t seen in San Francisco for many years: increase City funding for homeless services.
St. Anthony’s joined with homeless families, shelter residents, the Coalition on Homelessness, Hamilton Family Residences, Episcopal Community Services, Central City Hospitality House, Compass Family Shelter, CATS, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, Dolores Street Community Services, Providence Shelter, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and United Council of Human Services to ask the City to invest in emergency shelter and homeless prevention programs.
Why were we asking for an investment in shelters and resource centers?
Homeless shelters and resource centers provide are part of San Francisco’s basic safety net. Shelters help people who have no place to live to be able to have protection from the elements,and provide an opportunity to connect with basic social services that can help lift them out of homelessness. Resource Centers offer a safe place sit down and rest, to use the bathroom, and to get connected with social services, medical care, counseling. After years of underfunding, increased need, increased costs, and loss of federal, state, and private funding, the City’s emergency shelters and resource centers are stretched to their limits and are struggling to meet the City’s standards of care.
What about homeless prevention and rapid rehousing?
As part of the 2009 economic stimulus package (also known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, or ARRA) San Francisco received $8.75 million over 32 months through the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP). This funding was meant to be temporary, and was scheduled to end in June 2012. HPRP has prevented homelessness for 2,301 San Francisco households and has provided rapid rehousing for 106 San Francisco households since 2009. With nearly 200 families on San Francisco’s family emergency shelter waiting list, San Francisco can’t afford to lose this program.
Thanks to the hard work of advocates and homeless people themselves, the City is committing an extra $3 million to shelters, resource centers, and homeless prevention programs. After years of cuts to homeless shelters and drop in services, we are thrilled that the City has chosen to make an investment in our emergency shelter system. We are not done with our work, however. We know that we need more permanent housing for people with low incomes and for people who are not able to participate in the workforce. We need to improve the shelter system so that people who seek shelter are able to obtain it without waiting in line for hours in the middle of the night. We’re going to keep working, but we are proud of what we’ve achieved together!
(Pictured: The line for public testimony on the City Budget, June 22, 2012.)