SF misses target for busing homeless people out of county

City also falls short of goal to place individuals in supportive housing

San Francisco failed to meet its goals for helping people exit homelessness on two main fronts last fiscal year, newly released data showed Monday.

The City fell short of its aspirations for both housing homeless people, and for busing them out of San Francisco to live with family or friends around the country, according to the numbers from Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Kositsky said San Francisco fared worse in terms of sending people away on buses through the Homeward Bound program.

“We under-performed pretty significantly,” Kositsky said while presenting an annual report to the Local Homeless Coordinating Board. “Primarily that’s due to a reduction in placements through Homeward Bound more than it is in housing.”

The goal for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was to have 822 people exit homelessness through Homeward Bound. But the data showed only 627 people participated in the program — 195 short of the goal.

“The numbers are down substantially from where we had projected that they would be,” Kositsky said. “We only achieved three-quarters of our goal.”

The numbers are also lower than in years past.

The City has consistently enrolled about 800 homeless persons in the program since fiscal year 2007, according to the City Controller’s Office.

In terms of meeting its goal of placing homeless in permanent supportive housing, the department had better numbers.

The data showed 990 homeless were placed in supportive housing between July 2018 and June 2019, which was 87.5 percent of the goal of housing 1,131.

“Got close to our goal there,” Kositsky said.

Kositsky said the primary reason for the low numbers in Homeward Bound was that there are fewer families and friends with the means to support homeless people living in San Francisco than in previous years.

“As low-income families are more and more stretched with the vast majority of people who live below poverty-line paying 50 percent of their income to rent, there is just fewer and fewer places for people to be able to go home to,” Kositsky said.

He said department staff “are extremely diligent about making sure that we are not sending people home to be set up to fail or to end up on the streets in another community.”

“We are just seeing fewer people who have family members or friends who are able to take them back in or that we are comfortable making that commitment for that person to return,” he said.

The decline comes even as city officials in 2016 invested more in the program and hoped to see the numbers increase, the San Francisco Examiner previously reported.

Despite the lower numbers, Kositsky said the department will still try and hit a similar goal in the current fiscal year. But if they see a similar result, Kositsky said “we need to maybe re-adjust our expectations.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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