In a report released Sept. 3 by the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, policy recommendations were made to provide former unhoused individuals secure and stable housing.
The report, done in conjunction with peer researchers and researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, San Francisco State University and other associated organizations, addresses the issue of the “revolving door” in San Francisco’s homeless system.
“Two-thirds of people treated for substance use were eventually discharged to the streets,” said Olivia Glowacki, SF Coalition on Homelessness development director and the study’s project coordinator. “It’s ridiculous if you consider the many hours people spent on getting clean and going through treatment.”
The research, divided into various sections that include prevention, shelter and mental health, took a year to complete, according to Glowacki. The report was released a week before the California Supreme Court declined an appeal against Proposition C, a gross receipts tax meant to generate $300 million annually in the city and county of San Francisco for services for the homeless.
“Fifty percent of this money is meant to be spent on housing, but there is no outline on what type of housing. We wanted to make sure the proportions of money distribution reflect the needs of the community,” Glowacki said. “Different things work for different people.”
Glowacki added that the study was rooted in community-based participatory action research and was led by a team including former and current members of the unhoused community. The researchers’ ultimate goal was to allow the community to have formal input on how these funds are spent for the reformation of the system, according to Glowacki.
“After cleaning the data, we took our results right back to the community,” Glowacki said. “We presented our data and got feedback from people who had directly contributed to the surveys and discussed how well the questions and findings represented their personal experiences.”
The report has more than 100 policy recommendations, including reforms for living conditions and staffing in shelters. Glowacki added that it promotes safe encampment sites and outdoor arrangements of tents with showers, Wi-Fi and other amenities.
The study found that 58% of those surveyed preferred safe encampments over shelters; 44% of the respondents were living in shelters at the time of the survey. Even families and people with small children found the idea of encampments more appealing than the current conditions offered in shelters, according to Glowacki.
Findings also revealed that if given some rental assistance for even just a year or less, many of the respondents could have avoided homelessness entirely, Glowacki said.
“We believe in a San Francisco that is thriving, vibrant and where no one is forced to experience sleeping on the hard, cold concrete,” the study states. “Our vision is a San Francisco that prevents homelessness whenever feasible.”