Report Finds SFUSD “Stay Over Program” Successful in Helping Homeless Families

San Francisco Mayor London Breed
San Francisco Mayor London Breed

Controller’s Office evaluation found overnight shelter at Buena Vista Horace Mann School provides families experiencing homelessness with a safe place to sleep at night, especially families who are Latino and speak Spanish, and has successfully connected families to housing resources.

Monday, January 13, 2020, San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Supervisor Hillary Ronen today received the Controller’s evaluation of the Buena Vista Horace Mann (BVHM) Stay Over Program (SOP) for homeless families, located at the Mission District K-8 school. The City Performance Unit of the Controller’s Office conducted an evaluation of SOP to understand how it works, who it serves, and how well it helps San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity obtain more stable housing situations. They found that the expansion of the program in April 2019 significantly increased program utilization and cost-effectiveness. The shelter has served 59 families since opening, with nearly two-thirds of families exiting from the program on the path to secure housing, with 40% of individuals moving into transitional housing and six individuals renting their own place.

SOP allows families experiencing homelessness to stay overnight in the school gymnasium. Through the program, families are connected to the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s (HSH) Coordinated Entry Access Points to help them secure more stable housing. The shelter operates seven days a week, from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am on school days and 5:00 pm to 10:00 am on weekends and school breaks and includes all-night staffing, food, and supportive services.

The report found that 74% of individuals connected through the SOP identified as Latino and at least 32% speak Spanish as their primary language. The Controller’s Office found that the program has provided a culturally responsive service that directly meets the needs of Spanish-speaking families experiencing homelessness or housing instability for the first time.

The Controller’s Office also found that the services at the SOP include unique features not present in other congregate emergency family shelters. For example, the BVHM shelter provides language services, showers on-site, a secure storage area, and families can reserve space at the shelter for multiple days at a time. The Controller’s Office found that nearly all participating families were assessed at an Access Point, where families can access the system of care and available resources.

In 2017, SFUSD identified 64 families whose children are students at BVHM and lacked safe and stable housing. In November 2018, following significant advocacy from the BVHM leadership and school community, the City entered into a partnership with SFUSD to pilot the shelter at BVHM. The pilot program initially allowed for up to 20 families with children enrolled in BVHM experiencing homelessness to stay overnight in the school gymnasium.

Soon after the launch of the program, Mayor Breed, Supervisor Ronen, SFUSD, HSH, and Dolores Street teams recognized the SOP had the capacity to serve more families beyond BVHM alone. In February 2019, Mayor Breed sent a letter to SFUSD’s Board of Education urging the School Board to approve the expansion of SOP. Following the advocacy of Mayor Breed, Supervisor Ronen, and the BVHM school leadership, SFUSD Superintendent Matthews requested that the SOP be open to other families experiencing homelessness who have students enrolled in SFUSD schools.

As a result, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to expand the shelter program to serve families with students in all SFUSD schools instead of just families with students at BVHM. Mayor Breed and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing identified the funding to operate the program for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

Once the SOP opened to all SFUSD students in April 2019, overnight occupancy increased significantly, reaching a monthly average occupancy of 65%, up from an average of 5% before April.

In 2018, SFUSD identified 1,806 students experiencing homelessness. Using a school gym to temporarily house families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity who have children attending that school or another school in the district is a new model for San Francisco and the country and an innovative strategy to support the needs of homeless families seeking immediate refuge.

To view the full report, please visit:

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