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Navigating the Shelter System—April 2019

Recently, there has been a lot of news about a proposed Navigation Center along the Embarcadero. The Center, which will provide up to 200 beds for people experiencing homelessness, has raised many questions about how emergency shelter works in San Francisco. This Spotlight answers some of those questions with an overview of our City’s shelter ecosystem.

Today, the City offers a wide range of emergency options to support our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Most shelters are only open at night—some shelters exclusively serve families with children, and some are only open during the winter months. To make shelters more accessible, in 2015, San Francisco pioneered the Navigation Center—a first-of-its-kind shelter that was developed with advice and input from people experiencing homelessness. The resulting model provides intensive services and has a low barrier to entry, allowing guests to come in with their partners, pets, and personal belongings. This has helped more people connect with shelter and services. In the time since San Francisco opened its first Navigation Center, many cities have replicated the model in their own shelter systems.

While our Chronic Homelessness Initiative remains focused on housing as a permanent solution to homelessness, we believe that shelters and Navigation Centers play a crucial role in our homelessness response system. Read on to learn more about San Francisco’s emergency shelter system.

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