A homeless shelter in a San Francisco school gym has become an expensive failure, as officials are finding it underused, even though they say it’s staffed each night.
It would cost $900,000 annually to run the shelter if it was successful. The city pays non-profit Dolores Street Community Services $40,000 per month to manage the shelter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday.
Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School opened the experimental shelter in November 2018 to house students and families who were either homeless or facing housing insecurity. More than 1,900 out of about 54,000 San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) students identify as homeless, according to Mission Local‘s 2017-2018 statistics.
The school identified 60 struggling families at the time, the Chronicle reported. While SFUSD and city officials estimated the shelter would protect 20 families per night, the shelter had on average fewer than two people a night. Taxpayers spend around $700 for each person staying the night.
The school’s administrators support the shelter remaining open, saying families with unstable housing were able to find long-term options because of case workers at the shelter.
“Those services have arrived here because of the shelter,” Principal Claudia Delarios-Moran told the Chronicle. “It’s a program, it’s not a shelter.”
But San Francisco Mayor London Breed has been frustrated by the shelter not “meeting its goals,” although she did say the program is well-intentioned. She wants the city to invest resources into “programs that deliver results,” according to the Chronicle.
Some parents also believe the shelter did not fully consider the needs of the homeless and wasted money.
“Why didn’t they ask those 60 families what they needed?” parent Johanna Lopez Miyaki told the Chronicle. “Why didn’t they ask the 60 families if they wanted to sleep on the gym floor?”
Jeff Kositsky, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said at least 15 families — 38 members — would need to use the shelter to be worth the costs.
City officials said expanding the shelter to families from other city schools will be the only way to keep the program running past the current school year. But this option contradicts the school’s guarantee that the shelter will only help their families.
The median housing value in San Francisco is $1,378,200 while the median rent is close to $4,500, according to Zillow. (RELATED: Teachers Want A 12 Percent Raise In A California School District That Went Into A Financial Crisis In 2017)
Oakland, another Bay Area city, also struggles with high living costs. Teachers in the Oakland Unified School District are on strike over salaries and class sizes.
SFUSD, Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School, Breed’s office and the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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