The purpose of the Coalition on Homelessness is to unite
homeless people, service providers and advocate to work together,
to share information/experiences and advocate for positive and
humane changes in San Francisco’s homeless policies and programs.
Our aim is to move beyond short-term crisis approaches and
implement long-range permanent solutions, including
permanent low-cost housing, the right to employment
or income and social services for those in need.
Who We Are and What We Do
The Coalition on Homelessness was formed in 1987 to foster the active participation of homeless and low-income San Francisco residents and front-line staff in the struggle for economic and social justice. Through an integrated approach that combines outreach, peer support, leadership development, public education, advocacy, and community organizing, the COH works to defend homeless and low-income people from attacks on their rights and their persons, while advocating for permanent solutions to homelessness that take into account not only poverty’s devastating effects, but also its root causes.
How We Do It
Extensive peer outreach is at the heart of everything we do: We do not bring our agendas to poor and homeless people; they bring their agendas to us, and our efforts on their behalf (on both personal and political fronts) are shaped by their input and active involvement.
These workgroups foster collaboration among homeless people, concerned community members, and providers of social, healthcare, housing, employment, and legal services, to address the needs identified in the outreach systematically and effectively. Coalition workgroups are de facto educational as well as social communities: members can act as teacher, learner, or both by turn, sharing individual strengths to increase their combined capabilities. Homeless and low-income people seeking to advance their office skills can enjoy on-the-job training while working at the Coalition office, and additional educational and leadership development opportunities are available through affiliated courses and organizations.
The Coalition encompasses the following three projects:
Human Rights and Budget Justice Coalition
While selective enforcement and the promotion of laws targeting homeless people continue, San Francisco’s emergency services for homeless people have dramatically disintegrated. The loss of more than half of emergency drop-in centers, and over 1/3 of shelter beds has led to skyrocketing impacts on psychiatric crisis, emergency room visits, disintegrating health, and untreated addictive disorders. Individuals seeking shelter typically spends more than 8 hours a day seeking shelter, if lucky, get shelter for just one night, while beds sit empty due to systemic inequities. The Coalition seeks to protect the civil and human rights of homeless San Franciscans living on the street and in public shelters, through documenting abuse of homeless individuals, organizing for change, and through our budget advocacy, preserving programs and services that help homeless individuals move out of poverty.
Every year San Francisco faces millions in deficit. The Coalition helped found the Budget Justice Coalition, an alliance of community based organizations and service providers, dedicated to staving off budget cuts to vital poverty abatement programs.
Meeting Time: Wednesdays at 12:30 (open to public)
Anyone can walk in San Francisco’s low income neighborhoods and witness the difficulties and frustrations on the faces our people waiting to access permanent, affordable housing. San Francisco has 37,000 households on the combined waitlist for housing. Well over 6,000 people experience homelessness each night, 2,200 homeless children attend San Francisco’s public schools with the waitlist for families shelter has tripled since the recession. This year we are facing this crisis head on with documentation, analysis, the issuance of a report and pulling homeless families and individuals together to forge change. We engage in both community organizing and advocacy through peer support for homeless people.
Meeting Times: Tuesdays at 12 noon (open to public)
The Street Sheet is the oldest continuously-published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is our public outreach tool and reaches some 17,000 readers every two weeks to educate them about the causes of homelessness. For the vendors of the Street Sheet, it serves as a source of income and an alternative to panhandling. This will be published twice a month, serving 250 vendors.
Street Sheet distribution: Monday-Friday, 9am-12noon