Street Homelessness

Street Homelessness in San Francisco


Street homelessness is a crisis impacting San Francisco as well as communities up and down the west coast.  This is a humanitarian crisis at many levels. The most recent Point-In-Time (PIT) Count conducted in 2017 found that of the 7,499 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in San Francisco, approximately 4,353 of those people – 58% of the total – were unsheltered.  


While the numbers have stayed relatively steady over the past decade, San Francisco has seen an increase in the visibility of street homelessness in recent years. The “building boom” in the eastern neighborhoods has contributed to the increase in visibility of encampments in more residential and commercial areas. The rise in utilization of tents and physical structures by people experiencing homelessness has also contributed to the increased visibility of street homelessness. The opioid crisis affecting the nation is also present in San Francisco and is visible in a portion of the population today living on our streets.


The Current Approach to Street Homelessness


San Francisco’s Homeless Outreach Team (SF HOT) and Encampment Resolution Team (ERT) work in partnership with Public Works (PW), the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) and the Department of Public Health (SFDPH) to respond to street homelessness.


Multiple City agencies are engaged in responding to concerns about street homelessness, with roles ranging from providing health care on the streets, cleaning the streets, and ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods.  


HSH Strategy to Address Street Homelessness

  1. The best way to address street homelessness is to reduce overall homelessness by providing access to housing.
  2. Expand shelters, navigation centers, and resource centers to meet the immediate needs of people living on the streets  
  3. Expand the work of the Encampment Response Team [link to page focused on ERT]


For more information on HSH’s approach to addressing street homelessness: