With more than 6,500 chronically homeless residents still roaming the streets of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom signed a deal to operate a permanent site where they can access services daily.
Battling homelessness was one of the key issues for Newsom when he ran for mayor, and now, less than a month before leaving to assume the role of California lieutenant governor, he is announcing Daily Homeless Connect. The program will offer a wide range of services for transients, including housing and legal assistance, dental work, medical care and even eyeglasses.
The new program is a spinoff of Newsom’s legacy Project Homeless Connect program, in which thousands of homeless residents go to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium — or another spot in The City, such as Golden Gate Park — for one day every eight weeks to access a plethora of social services.
Newsom staffers said that program has helped to reduce the street population by 40 percent since 2004. Yet with his stated goal to end chronic homelessness by 2014, Newsom said he realized that too many people were still falling through the cracks.
In his State of The City speech last year, the mayor announced his plan to launch Daily Homeless Connect, which he said will help fill the gaps in the current homeless care system, said Dariush Kayhan, the mayor’s adviser on homeless issues.
Newsom signed a $400,000 contract with Tenderloin Health to house and operate Daily Homeless Connect 40 hours a week.
The new program will be located at 187 Golden Gate Ave., the current site of Tenderloin Health, a local nonprofit that provides medical and dental services to homeless residents. Daily Connect is scheduled open its doors in mid-February, serving as many as 100 people a day, said David Fernandez, the executive director of Tenderloin Health.
The organization is the perfect spot for this kind of program because it is situated in the heart of where the most chronically homeless people congregate, Fernandez said.
“This is a well-known area for people who really lack health care services and housing services they need,” he said. “There are a number of agencies in this area, so it will become a hub.”
After some construction work on the current building, where Tenderloin Health’s dental and medical clinics are housed, Fernandez plans to hire case managers, receptionists, peer advocates and security to staff the Daily Connect program.
“This will help in a huge way of getting to that goal,” Kayhan said. “It’s a lofty goal for sure, but we are getting there. We have had this economic downturn which has hindered us.”
Kayhan expects to have a better snapshot of the homeless problem in January when the next homeless count is scheduled to be taken.
Place to seek help
Mayor Gavin Newsom has set up a new program to offer services to homeless people in San Francisco.
What: Daily Homeless Connect
Where: 187 Golden Gate Ave.
When: Scheduled to open in February and operate 365 days a year
Cost: $400,000 annually
Goal: Serve 100 homeless people daily, targeting the estimated 6,500 chronically homeless in The City
Source: Mayor’s Office