In February 2021, a collaborative city and nonprofit team made up of: SFHOT, VA, Felton ICM and EMS6, worked together to house a vulnerable senior with schizophrenia who had been homeless in the Mission for 45 years. Bob* experienced homelessness when his first episode of schizophrenia began at the age of 30 years old. He lost everything: his job, family and stability. When Bob initially became homeless, he lived in his van for several years until he became ill and unable to maintain his vehicle. Through the journey of his return to stabilization, and outreach from SFHOT, Bob was in and out of hospital stays until the VA found Bob a SIP which could accommodate his ADL’s. After many attempts of housing offers, Bob successfully moved into the permanent supportive housing.
Tanya* a mother escaping domestic violence with two young children came to San Francisco seeking a better life. She and her children spent five months at the Hamilton Family Shelter. Overwhelmed and struggling, she reached out to her mother in Georgia, who in turn contacted Homeward Bound for help. In a matter of days, Homeward Bound was able to get Tanya and her children safely on a Greyhound bus home to Georgia. Tanya called her Homeward Bound case manager from every state until she was reunited with her grateful mother. Once a client is reunited with friends, family or loved ones, Homeward Bound follows-up with phone calls and outreach.
During the holiday season, the Homeward Bound Team was called by a local hospital to engage with a client named Joe. Joe was homeless in San Francisco and had been using emergency hospital services consistently for general weakness. Joe was extremely confused and soft spoken and it was challenging for the team to understand him. It was finally determined that Joe was from Texas and Joe gave the team permission to contact his family. San Francisco law enforcement reached out to Texas police to track down Joe’s son. Within a short timeframe Joe’s son called asking for details on Joe’s condition and about arrangements to get Joe home to Texas. Joe’s weak condition was of great concern to the Homeward Bound team and the consensus was that Joe would not be able to tolerate a three day bus ride home.
A phone call was made back to Joe’s son to see if he could come out earlier than planned. He agreed and booked a plane ticket immediately stating that he would arrive at SFO and stay the night. He would then rent a vehicle and drive back with Joe. Upon the Darrival of his son, Joe was very overwhelmed with emotion and was relieved that he was there. The Homeward Bound Team was able to assist the nurse in getting Joe ready for his trip home to Texas and walked Joe and his son to their car while wishing them a safe journey.
“Moments like these overpower so much of the heartache we see,” said Homeward Bound team member, Charlene Gandy. “We were determined to find a way to get Joe back to his family and it was powerful to witness this reunion.”
Barry*, a San Francisco native, recently moved into his new home after experiencing homelessness for over two years. After his divorce, Barry alternated between couch-surfing, staying in shelters, and living on the streets. He suffered a stroke, which resulted in him having significantly limited mobility and difficulty speaking. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Barry received a room at a Shelter-in-Place hotel operated by Episcopal Community Services. With the assistance of Adult Coordinated Entry, he secured permanent supportive housing, and he says he is delighted to “move forward and live my life” now that he has housing stability.
Kelly* was excited to pick new baby blue sheets for her first night at the City’s newly opened Lower Polk TAY (18-24) Navigation Center. She’s looking forward to taking advantage of the services offered through Third Street Youth Center & Clinic and Success Centers and one day hopes to attend law school here in San Francisco.
HSH first encountered 39-year-old, Thomas*, through the Encampment Resolution Team in October 2019. Thomas was born in the U.S. but raised in Hong Kong with his Mother until the age of 17. He moved back to the U.S. alone to attend college at San Francisco State. Starting a chapter all alone continents away from any family members had its ups and downs.
Unfortunately, his feelings of loneliness turned into depression which led to addiction and then homeless in 2011. Thomas worked odd jobs off and on, but they were hard to keep while living on the streets. After nine years of being on the streets of San Francisco, he accepted help from the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team. He expressed himself to the team with the powerful statement, “I can’t do this anymore.”
HSH was able to get Thomas connected with shelter services. When his reservations ended, he went back to the streets. On nights it was too cold to be in a tent, he would stay in a vehicle with friends. During the day, he would work odd jobs to save up enough to purchase a car where he would sleep.
It was a perilous journey for him. He lost many cellphones sleeping outside so it would sometimes be months that he would be out of contact. The San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team was finally able to support him and he was placed in a stabilization room at the Kean hotel earlier this year and from there HSH was able to work with him toward permanent housing .
A huge success milestone was achieved in September 2021 when Thomas was permanently housed at the El Dorado Hotel. He also went on to connect with an organization that helps people secure employment opportunities. Although it was not a simple or quick turnaround, it was a great success, and he is extremely thankful for the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team and all the other organizations that helped him on this journey to his goals: housing and employment.
Over the holidays we were able to transition, Brenda*, a 59 year old woman, who had been homeless her entire life, from a SIP hotel into permanent supportive housing. Brenda signed her lease on December 30th and rang in the new year in her new home. One of Brenda’s greatest joys is finally being able to cook again. Nonprofit Brilliant Corners provided the woman with kitchenware and she was able to cook her favorite dish, collard greens. As an older homeless woman who uses a walker, Brenda struggled on the streets and had trouble hanging onto her belongings and phone. Today, with stable permanent housing, Brenda is grateful to make homecooked meals to drop off for her friends.
Caressa, a 40 year old Asian Filipino transgender woman experiencing homelessness, spent most of January in the hospital with COVID before recovering in temporary housing at a Shelter-in-Place hotel. While grateful for the medical care, she longed for a more permanent residence. In late March, just before she celebrated Easter, Caressa got her wish and was approved for a permanent supportive housing unit at the Granada Hotel, a hotel purchased though the State’s Project Homekey funding. In addition to her unit, Caressa receives caregiving services twice a week through Homebridge. Homebridge provides care, laundry service, and cleaning to keep Caressa’s space neat and tidy. Caressa also receives meal delivery every afternoon. Her favorite meals include tuna casserole, lasagna and fish sticks. She’s especially appreciative of the regular diet of vegetables and fruit. “It’s a relief to have food and a stable place to live,” says Caressa. “Thank God I have a roof over my head and don’t have to be out in the cold.”
Fareedah Shabazz, the first tenant housed via Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, had been back and forth between homelessness and incarceration for ten years, and most recently was residing at a Shelter-In-Place (SIP) Hotel in San Francisco. Despite barriers to housing, Fareedah’s case managers and housing coordinators worked diligently to ensure Fareedah was welcomed to her new home with open arms.
When longtime San Francisco landlord Wayne H. got a call from Brilliant Corners, a non-profit partner in the City’s Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, he was intrigued. Wayne initially decided to limit his entry into the Flex Pool housing portfolio with just two vacant 1-bedroom apartments. “Sometimes people just need a helping hand,” says Wayne. Now, there is a growing, successful partnership between Wayne and Brilliant Corners. “If I had a concern, Brilliant Corners was hands on and responsive and that made the Flex Pool appealing to me,” explains Wayne. “Property managers don’t want to marginalize the tenants. We want to cultivate trust and sometimes a third party helps with that.” Today, Wayne has 20 rental units in the City’s Flex Pool program and he shares his positive Flex Pool landlord experience with other landlords. “It feels good to be helping and changing lives by getting people into housing,” says Wayne. “We’re all just people and everyone needs a place to call home.”