Navigation Centers

San Francisco Navigation Centers:
A housing focused, welcoming, short-term shelter model


San Francisco faces a significant challenge of homeless people living in encampments. The 2015 Point-In-Time count estimated that 6,700 people experience homelessness in San Francisco on any given night. 3,500 of those people are unsheltered living on the streets.

The Navigation Center, which opened in March 2015, is a successful program designed to shelter San Francisco’s highly vulnerable and long-term homeless residents who are often fearful of accessing traditional shelter and services. Navigation Centers provide these otherwise unsheltered San Franciscans room and board while case managers work to connect them to income, public benefits, health services, shelter, and housing. Navigation Centers are different from traditional shelters in that they have few barriers to entry and intensive case management.  Unlike traditional shelters, people with partners, pets and possessions are welcome at Navigation Centers.  The purpose of a Navigation Center is to offer a respite from life on the street and to support people in changing their lives by making lasting social service and housing connections.


Access to Navigation Centers is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.  Navigation Center services are coordinated with the Encampment Resolution Team and the Coordinated Entry System.  Navigation Centers do not accept external referrals or drop-ins.


Since opening, the Navigation Centers have brought over 1,150 highly vulnerable people off of the streets, and 72% of these guests have exited to housing.[i]


Mission Navigation Center

Quick Facts

  • Opened March 2015
  • Serves as an encampment triage center
  • Site: Temporary use of a former school site that is slated for affordable housing development
  • 75 person capacity
  • 1006 individuals served

Civic Center Navigation Center

Quick Facts

  • Opened June 2016
  • Entries and exits are aligned with San Francisco’s Coordinated Entry System
  • 93 person capacity
  • Site: Temporary use of an SRO building that is slated for redevelopment into affordable housing
  • 123 unique individuals served




Central Waterfront Navigation Center

Quick Facts

  • To open June 2017
  • 70 person capacity
  • Site: Temporary modular village on the end of an underutilized street on Port property
  • Entries and exits will align with San Francisco’s Coordinated Entry System

Navigation Center

Quick Facts

  • Scheduled to open
  • 120 person capacity
  • Site: temporary use of private property slated for housing development
  • Entry will be limited to individuals in encampments in the District
  • FAQ



[i] As of January 2017.