A homeless encampment is seen near Ninth and Division streets in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood in July. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Salesforce CEO, wife donate $6.1M to house formerly homeless

A former hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood will be turned into housing for formerly homeless individuals thanks to a partnership between the city and Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

Mayor London Breed made the announcement this morning alongside Benioff at the Bristol Hotel at 56 Mason St., where 58 units have been renovated into Single Room Occupancy housing.

According to Breed, while seeking money to renovate the hotel as the site for new permanent SRO housing for formerly homeless, she was able to persuade Benioff and his wife, Lynne Benioff, to donate $6.1 million to the project. Their donation will be used to pay for the first five years of the building’s 20-year lease.

“This doesn’t come along every single day. I started making the phone calls and not everyone said yes, but Marc Benioff said yes as soon as I asked him,” Breed said.

“My top priority as mayor has been addressing this and we know that not one size fits all,” Breed said. “Many people who are struggling with homelessness are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse disorders and those are challenges that we have to address in addition to providing safe and affordable places for people to call home.”

The units will be rented as Step-Up Housing–housing for formerly homeless people who no longer need services and are able to live independently. Those residents’ exit from supportive housing would then free-up space at Navigation Centers and shelters, making room for people who are just getting off the streets, according to Breed.

The building will be managed by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which will rent out the units monthly for $500 to $650, depending on their size. Each unit has a private bathroom.

Benioff said, “When it comes to ending homelessness, it doesn’t take miracles, it takes money–and it takes a lot of money… That’s why with the passage of Proposition C, the city will start collecting that money on Jan. 1.

“Bristol Hotel is a preview of what will come because the city will have the money to do it. Not just to do this but to do so many other things that are on our lists. It’s the beginning of a parade of new investments to end homelessness in our city,” he said.

Proposition C — a business tax for homeless funding–was approved by 61 percent of the city’s voters earlier this month. Although Breed endorsed the No on Prop. C campaign while Benioff supported the measure, Breed has since committed to putting the funds to good use.

According to Breed, in addition to the Bristol Hotel project, she’s also planning on opening 1,000 shelter beds by 2020, as well as opening a new Navigation Center by the end of this year. The new Navigation Center would be the third center opened since Breed took office.

Daniel Montes, Bay City NewsPlanning

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