City Lands $100M Donation To Halve Chronically Homeless Population

City Lands $100M Donation To Halve Chronically Homeless PopulationPhoto: Euan/Flickr
Shane Downing
Published on May 08, 2017

The Tipping Point Community, a local nonprofit working to fight poverty in the Bay Area, has pledged $100 million to halve the city’s chronically homeless population over the next five years.

The money is being raised from private donors and will go to the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, as well as select nonprofits. The $20 million per year infusion will add seven percent to the city’s annual budget for homelessness.

In a 2015 point-in-time count, 1,745 of the city’s 6,686 homeless individuals were classified as chronically homeless, meaning they’d been living outside for at least a year and struggled with mental health, substance-abuse issues and often more. However, given the imprecise nature of one-off street counts, the actual number is estimated to be closer to 2,000.

Daniel Lurie, Tipping Point’s founder and chief executive officer, wants to get it down to near 1,000 by 2022.

Between hospital visits, jail stints and other services, each chronically homeless person in San Francisco costs taxpayers an estimated $80,000 per year, roughly four times the cost of providing them with supportive housing.

Photo: Franck Michel/Flickr

The city spends nearly half of its yearly $265 million homelessness budget on supportive housing, with the rest of the money going to items like policing, street-cleaning and counseling.

San Francisco has made efforts in the past to eliminate chronic homelessness before, the most visible and challenging demographic to treat, the Chronicle reports. In 2004, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom created a 10-year plan to get some 3,000 chronically homeless residents off the streets.

City leaders, however, are calling Tipping Point’s pledge—the biggest donation of its kind made to San Francisco—a game-changer. “This is going to be huge,” Mayor Ed Lee was quoted as saying. “I do believe we’ll be able to cut chronic homelessness in half with this help.”  

Photo: Chris Barker/Flickr

The $100 million will be used to create permanent housing, expand mental health services and attract more state and federal funding, say the fund’s directors. Money will also be directed towards initiatives that prevent people from ending up homeless, targeting those who’ve spent time in the foster care or criminal justice systems.

Additionally, the donation will fund two specialists who will work with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to create a data system to track which homeless services people are using in the city to make the current system more streamlined.

Tipping Point will officially launch its $100 million initiative to cut San Francisco’s chronically homeless population by half on July 1st.

One of the organization’s first priorities will be to determine where it can construct new supportive housing. With the typical cost of a unit being nearly half a million and taking five years to build, the charity and city managers are looking into pre-fabricated modular housing designs as a way to save time and money.