Ruth Grace Wong

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Visible Homelessness in SF: A Quick Breakdown of Causes

There was another Point in Time count in 2019, and more recently a preliminary report for the 2022 count was published: https://hsh.sfgov.org/get-involved/2022-pit-count/ 

Visible Homelessness in SF: A Quick Breakdown of Causes

Maybe when you say people go from can't afford a home to moving to Boise, you are talking about people who can't afford to buy a home, not people who can't afford to rent a home

Visible Homelessness in SF: A Quick Breakdown of Causes

It's not true that people move out of the state when they become homeless. Because their friends and family are here, they often stay. 75% of the homeless people in San Francisco are from here. The housing price matters because poor people here are generally only able to stay because of things like rent control, so once they lose their housing (for example through an Ellis eviction or a fire), it's very difficult for them to get housing in the city again. So if they want to live in the city where their support network is, then the only option may be to live unsheltered or in their vehicle.

For those that can make it in another city (usually where a relative is willing to take them in), San Francisco is happy to pay for their transportation through the homeward bound program. Buying somebody a ticket out of San Francisco is the cheapest way for the city to make it look like it's ending homelessness. But the city doesn't actually track whether or not these people are able to make it wherever they end up.

Visible Homelessness in SF: A Quick Breakdown of Causes

I'm interested to see how Prop C changes things. Proposition C was passed in 2018 and taxes companies that made over 50 million dollars a year so that they contributed money into a fund specifically for ending homelessness. Normally the city budget includes money to create a thousand units of housing for homeless exits, whether the city is buying property to convert into permanent supportive housing or putting money into rent subsidies. A year ago the June budget was able to access the prop c money, and the budget included 4,000 units of housing for homeless exits. About 5,000 people a year become homeless in San Francisco. I did a research project last summer and found that indeed 20% of them are able to be housed through the coordinated entry system. So it'll be interesting to see how that number changes with the Prop C money. Though homeless advocates have to constantly fight with the city to make sure the money is used for homeless exits and not services for homeless people that don't actually help them get housed (like food).

(The research I was doing: https://www.cohsf.org/a-new-coordinated-entry-shifting-from-a-system-of-scarcity-to-assessing-real-needs/)