San Francisco's New 'Street to Home' Program Expedites Housing People and Reduces Vacancies in City Funded Homeless Housing

The program, which will allow the City to allocate permanent supportive housing units to directly place people from the street into housing, is part of a larger effort to significantly reduce unsheltered homelessness in San Francisco
October 06, 2023

San Francisco, CA -- Mayor London N. Breed today announced that Street to Home, a new innovative initiative, is expediting the process of providing housing for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in San Francisco and maximizing the use of existing vacant units in the City’s Homelessness Response System. The new program, in partnership with Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH), is part of the City’s ongoing commitment to bring people inside and connect them to a wide range of existing services and placements.

San Francisco's Five-year Strategic Homeless Plan, Home By the Bay, sets a goal of cutting unsheltered homelessness in half over the next five years. This builds on the 15% reduction in unsheltered homelessness San Francisco has seen since 2019. The Mayor has directed the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) to bring forward and implement new initiatives as part of these efforts. By leveraging vacant units within HSH’s portfolio, this program will streamline the process of transitioning individuals from the streets to permanent housing, ensuring a more efficient and compassionate approach.

“Street to Home is all about removing the barriers that slow us from making a real difference for our City and for people living on our streets,” said Mayor London Breed. “We have to be creative and not let barriers and bureaucracy get in the way of helping people. To build on the success of this pilot, we are advocating to relax federal rules so we can bring this program to more of our buildings across the City.”

HSH has recently piloted Street to Home in June, successfully placing 12 people over a three-week pilot period and in total 18 highly vulnerable people have been moved off the streets into long term housing.

The success of the pilot demonstrates that people living unsheltered are interested in long-term solutions to their homelessness, that housing placements can be expedited, and reducing the number of PSH vacancies in our community is possible by employing creative ideas and getting rid of bureaucracy in the housing placement process.  

“We believe that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home,” said Shireen McSpadden San Francisco Director of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “With Street to Home, we are taking a proactive approach to addressing street homelessness and creating a low barrier way to get people from the street into housing. This pilot program is a testament to our commitment to finding innovative solutions to the challenges our city faces.”

As part of Street to Home, the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (SFHOT) and the Housing Placement Team will first allocate units and then identify eligible individuals living on the streets. Those who are eligible will be shown a designated available room with the option to sign a lease and move in on the same day. In the interest of moving people more rapidly from the street, documentation will follow this process within 90 days of placement; there will no longer be a requirement to make the initial placement.

Currently Street to Home can only be implemented on locally funded projects due to requirements at the federal level that the City cannot waive. However, the Mayor has requested from HUD that these requirements be waived to allow direct placements into federal projects in order to extend the reach and impact of Street to Home.

“At DISH our number one priority is welcoming people home,” said Lauren Hall, executive director, Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DiSH). “We are thrilled to partner with the City to ensure that our supportive housing programs truly meet people where they are. With this pilot we can cut through processes that can unintentionally leave people on the streets and provide a true solution to being unhoused--a dignified safe place of their own.”

The Street to Home program will prioritize individuals who have been living on the street for an extended period and those who are most vulnerable. By providing direct placement into housing units, the program aims to reduce the trauma and instability associated with homelessness with a path toward stability.

In addition to Street to Home, HSH is engaging in process improvement and bureaucratic reforms to reduce the barriers to rapid housing placement by:

  • Making significant budget investments in property management for quicker unit turnover and higher unit quality.
  • Creating a Housing Placement team within HSH to improve the housing placement process for tenants and housing providers.
  • Instituting updated protocols for unit refusals and participation, coupled with increase in referrals.
  • Piloting a referral pipeline for clients who are “engaged” and have high level of documentation, including unsheltered people.
  • Continuing to refine pre-referral review process, including Continuum of Care (CoC) eligibility.
  • Establishing self-certification for placements as permitted under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations.
  • Expanding document-readiness role of shelter case managers.
  • Implementing monthly review of vacancies from provider reports to improve data quality and inform the work.

For more information on San Francisco’s five-year strategic strategy to address homelessness, visit