San Francisco faces a significant challenge with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The 2019 Point-in-Time Count estimated that there are over 8,000 individuals experiencing homelessness, approximately 5,180 living unsheltered, on any given night.
Improved coordination city-wide and the development of Navigation Centers, existing Temporary Shelters and SAFE Navigation Centers have significantly impacted our ability to bring our unhoused neighbors indoors. We know that the dignity and safety of every San Franciscan improves when everyone has a place to sleep inside.
The Navigation Center Model
San Francisco’s first Navigation Center opened in March 2015 and was a successful pilot serving San Francisco’s highly vulnerable and long-term unhoused neighbors who are often fearful of accessing traditional shelter and services. HSH subsequently opened 10 Navigation Centers and currently has 8 in operation. Access more information here.
San Francisco’s Navigation Center model is being replicated nationally and, here in San Francisco, we’re building on this best practice by developing SAFE Navigation Centers.
The SAFE Navigation Center Model
An evolution of Navigation Centers, SAFE Navigation Centers are low-threshold, high-service temporary shelter programs for adults experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. SAFE Navigation Centers are one part of the Homelessness Response System and are an attractive service for people living unsheltered or in encampments.
SAFE Navigation Centers are essential to reducing unsheltered homelessness and connecting guests to services and housing assistance. SAFE Navigation Centers build off of the best aspects of Navigation Centers while making them more scalable, sustainable, and effective. The City is looking to expand SAFE Navigation Centers in neighborhoods across the city to respond to the homelessness crisis and has reviewed over 100 potential sites.
Navigation Centers are highly effective at placing people who are Housing Referral Status into Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH).
Navigation Centers and SAFE Navigation Centers do not accept walk-ins. All individuals and couples who enter have been selected by the SF Homeless Outreach Team or a centralized referral system. Because Navigation Centers operate 24/7, there are no lines outside in the evening, and guests are not exited onto the street in the morning.
Improving Safety for All San Franciscans
Neighbors of the existing Navigation Centers report that Navigation Centers have no negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods and, in some cases, improve them. This Navigation Center Neighborhood Impacts Report reviews the impact on crime, property values, sense of safety and visibility of homelessness in neighborhoods surrounding Navigation Centers. One neighborhood association near a Navigation Center offered this letter of support to extend the lease of the Navigation Center after it proved to be effective for people experiencing homelessness and the surrounding residents.
Existing Navigation Centers
photos by City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Works
|Bayshore Navigation Center|
Opened October 2018
128 person capacity*
|Taimon Booton Navigation Center|
Opened December 2018
84 person capacity*
|Division Circle Navigation Center|
Opened June 2018
186 person capacity*
|Central Waterfront Navigation Center|
Opened June 2017
64 person capacity*
|Civic Center Navigation Center|
Opened June 2016
112 person capacity*
|Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center|
Opened December 2019
200 person capacity*
|Bayview SAFE Navigation Center|
Opened January 2021
116 person capacity*
|Lower Polk TAY Navigation Center|
Opened February 2021
75 person capacity*
Additionally, Hummingbird Navigation Center is funded and operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
1515 South Van Ness was a Navigation Center but is no longer in operation.
*Capacity is pre-COVID-19 protocols. All congregate shelters have a decreased capacity due to COVID-19 protocols set by the Department of Public Health.*