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Homeless outreach boosted in SF amid major storm

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The weather service has issued a flash flood watch in San Francisco from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2016. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

The storm of the century has cleared San Francisco's homeless population off of the streets and into shelters that opened just for the occasion, officials said Thursday.

Churches and homeless shelters that normally close for the day early in the morning were open around-the-clock as the much-hyped rainstorm rolled across the Bay Area.

The City's homeless outreach teams were on call throughout the day, directing any people left on the streets to church basements, neighborhood homeless shelters and other indoor dry spaces offered for the duration of the storm.

About 200 people were huddled in St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin, and nearby St. Anthony's Dining Room was expecting to serve hot meals to as many as 3,000 people, spokesman Karl Robillard said.

There are over 6,400 people sleeping on streets or in homeless shelters on any given night in San Francisco, and only 1,139 shelter beds to serve them.

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About 1,000 of The City's homeless are youths, and with San Francisco Unified School District closed for the day, places like the First Friendship Church on Steiner Street was offering space for families with no place to go.

Homeless outreach teams were also out in force Wednesday, informing people of the increased availability for shelter and services during bad weather.

The message seemed to get out.

Before the storm Wednesday night, streets typically full of people were nearly empty, said Bevan Dufty, the Mayor's Office homeless czar.

“And when the rains came, that led any last recalcitrants to finally come inside,” he said.

Some homeless folks did choose to stay outside for the storm, though not without shelter.

The tent city on Division Street underneath the U.S. Highway 101-Interstate 80 overpass was in place Wednesday night, Dufty said.

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