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Hundreds helped to exit homelessness, but city struggles to rehouse families

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City statistics show the city has struggled to rehouse families, but has succeeded in helping hundreds of people exit homelessness. (Examiner file photo)

In the first 10 months of the last fiscal year, San Francisco’s homeless department helped between 158 and 200 people exit homelessness each month, according to city data presented Monday.

In total, between July and April, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing helped 1,803 people exit homelessness either through placing them in housing or using other methods like sending them to stay with friends or family on the Greyhound bus, according to data presented Monday to the Local Homeless Coordinating Board by Jeff Kositsky, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

That’s about 81 percent of the department’s goal to help 2,220 people exit homelessness for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The department anticipated reaching 94 percent of that goal, or 2,086, by June 30.

Of the total 1,802, 1,062 were placed in housing and 741 were sent away on the bus or helped in other ways, such as with eviction prevention services.

Of those placed in housing, 920 moved into permanent supportive housing, which put the department on pace to exceed its goal of placing 948 in permanent supportive housing by June 30.

But the department only rapidly rehoused 142, less than half the goal of 420.

“We’re doing really well in our permanent supportive housing placements,” Kositsky told the board. “But are not doing that great on rapid-rehousing. This is really exclusively around family rapid-rehousing. We are really concerned about this.”

Kositsky said that they have a contracted nonprofit “that’s been struggling with making placements with rapid re-housing. We’ve met with that provider already and are trying to address those issues.’

They have also looked for outside help and met with a group called Open Doors Atlanta, which was formed by real estate professionals in Atlanta to address homelessness. “They have been able to really help Atlanta find units in the private market for people experiencing homelessness. And this is ultimately the big challenge that our nonprofit providers face, is how do they find housing to use these rent subsidies,” Kositsky said.

Another initiative that showed weakness was the Housing Ladder, where formerly persons living in supportive housing would move on to other subsidized housing situations to free up the more service-intensive beds for those who need them. The initiative had freed up only 90 beds, or 55 percent of the goal, as of April. However, Kositsky said officials ramped up their efforts in the last two months of the fiscal year and reached their goal by June 30.

The department’s annual goals are vital to realizing the five-year plan released in October that sets expectations, such as a 50 percent reduction in chronic homelessness by December 2022.

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