A San Francisco Controller’s Office audit report shows promising results in a city-operated program that transformed a school gym into temporary shelter for homeless families and students in the school district.
The “Stay Over Program” or SOP, which began in November 2018, initially allowed homeless families whose children attended Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School, to stay overnight at the school’s gym until families secure housing.
Mayor London Breed said in a statement:
“Our goal is to get families placed in permanent housing, and the program at BVHM helps us reach those families who are experiencing homelessness to get them connected to services and into homes.”
Families who took part in the program were connected with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Service’s Coordinated Access Points for to help find stable housing.
As of Sept. 30, 2019, 36 out of 55 families who participated moved on from the SOP program and took steps to obtain housing, the report said.
Fifty-nine families total, or 193 individuals, were served by the SOP between November 2018 through September 2019, the report said.
Fifty people moved into individual room shelters and transitional housing, 42 did not complete an exit interview, 12 individuals found other housing, nine stayed with friends temporarily, six secured rental units and three went to emergency shelters.
Though the program was initially only allowed homeless families whose students attended Horace Mann, it was opened up to all students and their families throughout the San Francisco Unified School District in April 2019.
Since then, the audit reported that more than 30 schools referred students to the program. The school district estimates more than 1,800 students are experiencing homelessness.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who supported the program from the beginning, said in a statement:
“The Stay Over Program not only enables us to provide much needed emergency services and refuge to housing insecure students and their families, but it has also addressed the needs of a population who the city has not previously been able to effectively serve—Latino, Spanish-speaking families.”
The program continues to operate and funding has been allocated for at least the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, according to the Office of the Mayor.