San Francisco is known for its diversity and friendly people, for its natural beauty and world-class attractions. These are the things that make it such a desirable destination for meeting planners. Nevertheless, like any urban destination worldwide, the city has challenges with unhealthy street behavior and safety concerns.
We know this is an especially sensitive issue for our meeting and convention clients. That's why we want you to know about the plans and programs that we support as the City works to make San Francisco's streets clean and comfortable for everyone.
A New Way to Shelter and Serve
San Francisco led the way in transitioning people out of homelessness when it opened its first Navigation Center. The facility is not a traditional homeless shelter. It doesn't just give those in need a place to sleep; it also provides them with case managers who connect them to public benefits, health services, and more permanent housing.Unlike most shelters, there are few barriers to entry. People in need are allowed to bring their partners, pets, and possessions—all things that they may be relying on to survive the experience of homelessness.The first Navigation Center was a success. There are now many Navigation Centers in operation that have served thousands of individuals. Many of those individuals have transitioned into more permanent housing or have been reunited with family or friends through the City’s Homeward Bound Program. This program is nationally recognized and has been replicated in other cities.
Additionally, the City has set up a number of Safe Sleeping Sites around the City to bring people closer to services such as hygiene and social workers and adequate protections from COVID 19. There is a movement to expand this program so that everyone experiencing homelessness has access to a safer and cleaner environment while shelters placements open and permanent homeless exits come online. This program helps those who are most vulnerable in our communities, while also creating safer and cleaner spaces for our visitors, employees, and residents on our streets.
A Dedicated City Department
San Francisco's City government coordinates the key programs and staffers from the Department of Public Health, the Human Services Agency, the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families to form the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. By bringing local experts together and combining their resources, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing can operate with the singular focus of preventing and providing a path out of homelessness for individuals and families.
Finding New Resources
In 2018, the voters of San Francisco passed Proposition C, Our City Our Home. The funding from that measure is now available and will provide up to an additional $300 million in funding for permanent supportive housing, mental health services, homeless prevention and emergency shelter and hygiene services.
The HOT Team
The San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (SFHOT) was created to rapidly respond to visitor and resident concerns about people experiencing homelessness. By calling 311 or using their SF311 mobile app, individuals can direct trained staff to specific locations around the city where someone is in need. For visitors with phone numbers outside San Francisco’s 415 area code, dial (415) 701-2311.
The SFHOT team consists of professionals trained in multidisciplinary approaches to helping homeless individuals.The SF HOT Street Medicine team is built on the model “Homeless to Primary Care Medical Home” to provide and address the barriers to transitional primary health care in an appropriate setting for each individual patient. The Street Medicine team works with patients on issues such as medical, mental health and substance use disorders as well as competing priorities such as lack of food, shelter and clothing. They also work to identify related systems barriers such as difficult to obtain enrollment and insurance requirements, inconvenient hours and locations of services, discrimination and services that have not created adaptations and accommodations for the needs of homeless people.
Protection, Prevention, and Reunion
There are a number of city programs that San Francisco Travel supports that combat homelessness.Eviction prevention programs help keep those vulnerable to being homeless in their homes. These programs provide funds to pay back rent, legal services, counseling and more.Homeless prevention programs provide financial assistance to individuals and families at imminent risk of becoming homeless so they may keep their homes or quickly find suitable alternative housing.The Homeward Bound program reunites homeless individuals living in San Francisco with family and friends who are willing and able to provide housing and ongoing support to break the cycle of homelessness.
In the Neighborhoods
In addition to the City’s initiatives, numerous programs to help those in need are supported by public and private organizations. For example:
Downtown Streets is a nonprofit program working to employ those currently experiencing homelessness. Team members engage in beautifications projects such as street cleaning. In San Francisco and neighboring cities, it serves over 750 unhoused men and women a year with almost 50 staff members and growing. Its goal is to end homelessness in our lifetime: one community at a time.
Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services, or CHEFS, is a five-month culinary training program that provides instruction in technical and professional skills enhancement necessary for entry into the food service industry. Students are provided with classroom instruction, in-kitchen hands-on training and an internship at a local restaurant or institutional kitchen setting. Individuals qualify for the program if they live on the street, in a shelter, in transitional housing, in a residential treatment program, in a supportive housing building or meet HUD (Housing and Urban Development) definition of extreme low income.
The Tenderloin Community Benefit District (TLCBD) works relentlessly to provide a clean and safe environment. Strong community partnerships and supportive collaboration with city agencies will create positive change in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Organization services are focused on implementing neighborhood improvements around the physical environment, economic development, and neighborhood pride. Starting in 2005 a non-profit 501c3 was established collaboratively by community leaders and property owners.
Hunters Point Family is a grass-roots, community-based organization that provides holistic programs supporting education, leadership and workforce development, arts enrichment, and recreation to at-risk African American youth and young adults living in the Bayview Hunters Point community of San Francisco. It offers five different programs each targeting specific youth development needs and academic gaps. Hunters Point partners with 200 youths (ages 10-22) and their families each year in programs that comprehensively support and serve each young person’s social, educational, recreational and home needs.
For more information about organizations with programs to support this community, click here.
Working with Local Law Enforcement
San Francisco Travel supports increasing the ranks of the San Francisco Police Department and dedicated foot patrols in all neighborhoods, but particularly around our downtown hotels and the newly renovated Moscone Center. The presence of additional officers makes guests at The Moscone Center feel more comfortable during their visit. We also support and encourage mental health and social workers to respond to calls such as mental crisis, substance abuse or non-emergency calls concerning help for someone experiencing homelessness.
Our organization and our industry as a whole enjoys a trusting, communicative relationship with all first responder services in the city. While our first priority is to meet those in need with compassion, we also believe that illegal behavior should be dealt with appropriately.
For our major citywide events, The Moscone Center has been working closely with the three San Francisco Police districts that serve the neighborhoods surrounding the venue. Together, they have designed pedestrian traffic plans that deploy officers, both on foot and on bicycle, to the streets and public spaces that attendees are most likely to walk during their stay. This is just another way we are ensuring a safe and pleasant experience for our guests to The Moscone Center.
How You Can Help
The best thing you can do to help us improve our city is to keep in touch with your convention sales and services managers at San Francisco Travel. Let us know about any issues you may experience during your meeting and send us any questions you may have about these programs. You can also give back during your meeting in San Francisco. Click here[ to learn about a number of local charitable organizations that you can work with to make a positive impact.
Creating a more welcoming environment for visitors is our chief concern, and we appreciate your participation and support. If you'd like more information about how your attendees can enjoy San Francisco safely, check out our common safety tips for attendees.