Hamilton Family Center (HFC) is a nonprofit organization with the mission of ending family homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. As part of their initiative to end family homelessness in San Francisco by 2019, HFC partnered with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to more effectively assist families of public school students who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Google.org provided a $1 million grant to help launch this partnership and serve 100 homeless or at-risk SFUSD families from November 1, 2014 – October 31, 2016.
During the first year of the pilot program (Nov. 2014 – Oct. 2015), 51 families received direct services through this partnership. Twenty-two homeless families were placed into permanent housing and 29 at-risk families were able to avoid eviction and probable homelessness. An additional 14 families were seeking housing as of October 31, 2015 and 86 were referred to other services (HFC data). The most significant finding to date is that the 22 families placed into permanent housing were homeless for an average of 8.2 months less than families served outside of this pilot project. Although this is a small sample size, the results from the first year of this pilot project indicate it has great potential to reduce the length of time a family is homeless.
The partnership between HFC and the SFUSD is part of a larger effort to end family homelessness in San Francisco that began in late 2014. The result of this initiative has been a reduction in the average waitlist for family shelter by nearly 40% since the spring of 2013 (Connecting Point data). In addition, the number of homeless students decreased by 255 within one school year (SFUSD data). As a result of these successes, the City and County of San Francisco is providing additional public funding to expand the partnership between service providers and the school district.
The purpose of this report is to provide information to other communities on the benefit of building similar partnerships to address family homelessness. It provides information based on experiences in San Francisco and highlights the need for further research and improvements to service delivery systems.