[Hpn] Shelter survey report: SHUT OUT... part 1

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 16:33:07 -0700

how did I know it was going to bounce?

ok, Tom. here 'tis. it ought to keep you busy reading for a while (if 
the post is small enough that it won't "bounce" from the list!)the 
raw numbers are all tight and right (I think), but the percentages 
I'm not so sure about. and I'm too burned out to play with my 

I knew there was a reason I've been jamming on this thing all 
weekend. enjoy! discuss! stir some shit!

comments? questions? ask away!


chance (aka anal retentive policy wonk)


SHUT OUT... with plenty to say.
The Voices of Homeless People in San Francisco's Shelters

A Report by the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco


"As rich as this country is, there should not be homelessness here."
				40 year old African American male

San Francisco currently provides shelter for about 15% of the 
11,000-14,000 men, women and children who have nowhere else to go on 
any given night in America's tightest housing market. The heated 
competition for housing in the face of skyrocketing rents in San 
Francisco drives the price of housing beyond the reach of low-income 
renters, so shelters are increasingly becoming destinations, rather 
than the emergency accommodations they were created to be. While 
homeless shelters are the least desirable method of coping with lack 
of housing, current federal spending practices have de-prioritized 
the provision of an adequate supply of permanent, low-income 
affordable housing. The result has, unfortunately, served to ensure 
these institutions will likely be with us for many years to come.

The Coalition on Homelessness led a community effort to survey 407 
homeless people during the months of August and September, 2000. The 
purpose of this survey was to capture the input of homeless people to 
guide efforts in redesigning the way San Francisco provides homeless 
shelter services.

What we found was that homeless people had a lot to say about San 
Francisco's shelters, and they welcomed the opportunity to tell us 
their views. Survey respondents were very articulate as they 
expressed their views and experiences on what worked and didn't work 
in San Francisco's shelters. Their responses on how to improve our 
homeless shelters were also very clear and creative.


A recent ballot initiative, Proposition E - which would have stripped 
single adult public assistance recipients of cash benefits - was 
defeated by voters on the March 2000 ballot. While it was being 
considered, City departments were meeting behind closed doors to 
develop a response by redesigning the shelter system.

The Coalition on Homelessness responded by demanding an open dialogue 
and input from homeless people on what changes should be made to the 
shelter system. The "Strengthening Single Adult Shelter System" 
committee was formed though the Local Homeless Coordinating Board as 
part of HUD's Continuum of Care process.
In addition, the Coalition on Homelessness put together this survey 
to gather the thoughts and ideas of homeless people themselves on how 
they felt the shelter system should be designed.

We asked a lot of open-ended questions about various aspects of the 
shelter to ensure creative unlimited responses. What we received was 
exactly that. Homeless people were frank and open, and had countless 
innovative ideas. If acted upon, these recommendations will truly 
transform San Francisco's shelter system from places where people 
stay homeless to places that are responsive launching pads up and out 
of homelessness.

This report is meant to impact any shelter re-design efforts and also to:

o Direct the spending of the $240,000 currently available to 
re-design the shelter system,

o Inform the re-bidding process for both MSC-North and MSC-South shelters, and

o Be introduced into language regarding shelters in the City's 5-year 
homeless plan, entitled "Continuum of Care".

The Coalition will use responses from this survey to form our agenda 
for reforming the single adult shelter system. We will continue to 
work tirelessly to make homeless peoples' voices heard, and then 
acted on.


This survey is not meant to be a scientific sampling. Instead, the 
following survey responses offer us a reflection of what the 407 
homeless people who were surveyed want and need from San Francisco's 

We attempted to ensure that homeless people were adequately 
represented by choosing sites that, together, would represent the 
diversity of homeless people in San Francisco. Over 50 sites were 
chosen city-wide, and special attention was paid to those services 
targeting specific populations. However, most sites were locations 
where homeless people congregate, including many service sites. As a 
result, there are many populations under-represented that tend to be 
part of the hidden homeless population.

For example, of the 407 people we surveyed, only 67 were female, and 
only two identified as transgender. This is primarily a result of two 
things: only single adults were targeted, leaving out those with 
children. Women and transgenders tend to be under served in homeless 
services, and as a result these populations tend to be hidden (i.e. 
"Sofa-bed surfing") and inaccessible to survey takers. Seniors were 
also under-represented, as well as young adults, Asians, Native 
Americans for these same reasons. We did not ask for neighborhood of 
origin, since many neighborhoods in the city do not have services or 
have few services for homeless people. We had to rely on street 
surveys in several neighborhoods.  We can only assume that these 
populations would be under-represented as well. Lastly, we surveyed 
only in Spanish and English, so those speaking other languages would 
not be represented here.

Who was Surveyed
Surveys were conducted during the months of August and September 
2000. Surveys were conducted at 51 different sites, including 
shelters, self-help centers, food lines, drop-in centers, public 
health facilities, low-income SRO hotels, welfare offices, and the 
streets and parks of San Francisco.

Survey Sites:

Senator Hotel
Cambridge Hotel
Cadillac Hotel
United Nation Plaza
Cesar Chavez St.
Day Labor Program
GA Office
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Lutheran Church
Mission Shower Project
Delores Street Shelter
Third Baptist Church
Chinatown Tenants Assoc.
Chinatown streets
Marian Residence
Tom Waddell Clinic
South Beach Drop-in
Episcopal Sanctuary
Metropolitan Community Church
Hospitality House Shelter
McMillan Drop-in
St Paulus
Haight St.
Castro St.
Vehicularly Housed Residents' Assoc.
16th & Mission St.
24th and Mission St.
Haight Ashbury Food Program
St. Anthony's
SF General Hospital
SF Main Library
Washington Square Park
A Woman's Place
A Man's Place
ARA Hotel
Raymond Hotel
Swords to Plowshares
Young Community Developers
Bayview Hunter Point Streets Bayview MSC
Hamilton Family Shelter
Bayview Health Clinic
Tenderloin Self-Help
Powell St.
6th & Market St.
Coalition on Homelessness, SF
Turk and Larkin St.
Pine St.
Matt's Place/Queer Youth Shelter

Survey respondents who stayed in shelters:

Yes				354		87%
No				 53		13%

Average number of months since respondents last stayed in shelters:

1 month or less			317		78%
Less than 3 months		  7		  2%
3 to 6 months			 18		  4%
6 to 12 months			 28		  7%
13 to 24 months			 17		  4%
More than 24 months		 20		  5%

Ethnicity of survey respondents:

Caucasian			132		32%
African-American/Black		119		30%
Latino/a/Chicano/a		100		25%
Native American		 	 13		  3%
Pacific Islander		 	   8		  2%
Asian				   4		  1%
Other				  26		  6%
Decline to answer		   5		  1%

Age of survey respondents:

18-24				  29		 7%
25-34				  74		18%
35-54				 240		59%
55+				  51		13%
Decline to answer		  13		 3%

Gender of survey respondents:

Male				334		82%
Female				 67		16%
Transgender			  2		 0.05%
Other				  2		 0.05%
Decline to answer		  2		 0.03%

Veteran status of survey respondents:

Veterans			 97		24%

Respondents who had children living with them:

Yes				   9	 	 2%

8000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
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Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
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San Francisco, CA 94102
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Fax: (415) 775.5639