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SF, Benioffs promise to solve homeless-family crisis by 2019

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$30 million with the hopes of getting 800 families under a roof—even if it means sending them out of the city


It seems like whenever the city throws a solution at the homeless problem, it bounces right back.

Now the San Francisco Mayor’s Office and several high-profile private backers—including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Presidio Trust Director Lynne Benioff—are joining a non-profit in an ambitious, $30 million program to solve just one of the city’s homeless issues: families.

San Francisco’s recent 2015 homeless count identified 226 homeless families, with 663 members.

But the Heading Home Campaign estimates that there are actually about 1,145 families in the city needing housing help, once you factor in those not presently on the street but perhaps only a spare couch away from it.

Heading Home is the work of Hamilton Families (previously the Hamilton Family Center), a charity specializing in sheltering homeless families.

With Heading Home, both Hamilton and the city vow to move 800 families into housing by 2019, fueled by a $30 million fund filled largely by companies like Google, the San Francisco Giants, and Salesforce.

While there’s already a system in place to help families get off the streets, working through its red tape can take over a year. Hamilton and the Mayor’s Office want to cut that down to 90 days.

Part of the plan: Possibly moving people out of San Francisco altogether.

The director of the city’s Department of Homelessness told the San Francisco Chronicle that the “rapid rehousing” model means putting families into the first available home, even in another community “if amenable.”

Admittedly his would seem to be something of a grim concession at a time when the city wants to beef up transitional housing of its own. But homes are still the bottom line.

Presently, the Hamilton fund has raised over $9.8 million of its $30 million goal. Salesforce, Google, and the city have all contributed millions to Hamilton in the past, but never with so many big promises attached.