An update from the Chronic Homelessness Initiative
An update from the Chronic Homelessness Initiative
Dear Colleagues,
On September 9, the California Supreme Court granted a major victory for San Franciscans who voted for Proposition C in 2018. The Court’s decision to reject a legal challenge to the measure, which passed with 61% of the vote two years ago, means that tax revenue from San Francisco businesses that earn more than $50 million in gross receipts will be directed to housing and services to address homelessness.

This changes everything.  We needed resources, and now we have them.  But that can lead to a false sense of complacency, making it easy to tell ourselves that we did our job and now the City can finally, and permanently, address homelessness.  

The truth is, all the money in the world will not solve homelessness in San Francisco unless each of us takes responsibility and demands transparency and accountability from everyone involved.

This rosy notion of a San Francisco without homelessness only happens if we actually create housing placements and move people inside. The Mayor’s Homeless Recovery Plan sets forth an ambitious two-year timeline to do just that. If we don’t meet the goals we set in the next two years, people will suffer and conditions on the streets won’t improve. 

Now is not the time to step back from the homeless but to step forward, to see people experiencing homelessness as people, not problems. We are certainly not stepping back at CHI. We’re doing just the opposite by tracking progress toward goals on every intervention targeted to housing people experiencing chronic homelessness. 

As you will read in the following update, our criminal justice work is one way we are working toward those goals. We play an essential philanthropic role in the community by prototyping key strategies, like Step Up to Freedom, that will transform the homelessness response system toward greater effectiveness and equity, and we will keep you updated so that you can be a part of the critically needed transparency and accountability efforts in our city.  

Chris Block

Spotlight: Step Up to Freedom Breaks the Pipeline from Incarceration to Homelessness

Step Up to Freedom is a pilot program that unites the public and private sectors to support San Franciscans who have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system and homelessness or housing instability. The two issues are linked as individuals with a history of incarceration face significant challenges to securing housing and employment. San Francisco’s most recent Point in Time Count in 2019 found that 25% of surveyed individuals spent at least one night in jail in the previous year, and 12% of respondents were on probation or parole at the time of their homeless experience. Delivering on our promise to reduce the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in our city requires that we consider and remove every possible barrier to securing housing.

Enter, Step Up to Freedom, a partnership between San Francisco Adult Probation Department (APD), Episcopal Community Services, and Tipping Point Community. The program operates with funding from San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) and the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), in collaboration with California State parole.

This cross-sector partnership applies public and private resources to help eligible individuals permanently exit the criminal justice system and homelessness. Participants receive a temporary subsidy for housing and workforce development support to increase their income so they can continue to independently maintain stable housing after the program.

Over the course of three years, the program aims to house at least 40 individuals while also determining the best ways to promote stability, well-being and independence. Developed in collaboration with individuals who have lived experience, Step Up to Freedom provides immediate benefits for participants while also building a system that ensures individuals are given the chance to successfully transition to their life after incarceration.

The timing of this program is critical as, simultaneously, thousands of individuals are being released from California’s jails and prisons to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and our community confronts the racial injustices that have disproportionately impacted the Black community for generations. Step Up to Freedom illustrates the opportunity to build bridges in service of increasing equity and opportunity for all residents.

Who's Making It Happen

Danny, 26, was the first referral from the Adult Probation Department and first connected with ECS during a focus group to develop the Step Up to Freedom program in February.
Danny, a participant in the Step Up to Freedom program with Episcopal Community Services (ECS), shares the impact that access to housing has had on his life. Danny currently works full-time for Uncommon Law, which fights to ensure that all people incarcerated for violent crime have access to healing, justice, and effective legal representation.
“I was incarcerated and sentenced to life when I was a teenager in high school. Prior to my incarceration, I did not know how to be an adult nor had the skills to navigate through life thus, upon my release, I was very scared of failing.
ECS has helped me secure housing which has immensely assisted in my transition and success. Through ECS I have received one-on-one mentoring from financial literacy to grocery shopping. Because of ECS I can focus on my college education at UC Berkeley and on my career.  Without ECS I would not be able to fully focus on bettering myself and pursuing my dreams.”

What We're Reading 

CHI partnered with national experts to produce a white paper that details the need for shared housing in San Francisco and describes effective shared housing practices based on successful models across the nation. Shared housing can effectively support the majority of populations being moved out of homelessness in high-cost housing markets. (CHI Reports)
Tipping Point Community Advisory Board Member TJ Johnston celebrates the Proposition C decision victory with this blog post. He shares his experience advocating for its passage and the impact it will have on his peers who have lived homelessness experience.  (CHI Blog)
Andrea Evans, CHI Senior Planner and All In Campaign Manager, authored this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle to encourage San Franciscans to take an active role in deciding how Prop C funds are used and highlight our best chance at ending homelessness in 20 years. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Chronic Homelessness Initiative Overview

There are approximately 3,000 people experiencing chronic homelessness on any given night in San Francisco. Tipping Point’s $100 million pledge marks the single largest private investment to address homelessness in City history.

Tipping Point takes a three-pronged approach to our impact goal. See here for more details. If you are receiving this email as a forward, subscribe here to receive this update monthly.
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