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 Franciscans 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 Coalition 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 agenda to poor and homeless people; they bring their agenda to us, and our efforts on their behalf (on both personal and political fronts) are shaped by their input and active involvement.
Our 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 educational as well as social communities: members act as teacher, student, or both by turn, sharing individual strengths to increase their combined effectiveness. Homeless and low-income people seeking to improve their office skills can train while working at the Coalition office, and additional educational and leadership development opportunities are available through our affiliated organizations.
The Coalition encompasses the following three projects:
Human Rights and Budget Justice Coalition
While selective enforcement and the propagation of laws targeting homeless people continues, San Francisco’s emergency services for homeless people have been dramatically reduced. The loss of more than half of the city’s emergency drop-in centers, and over 1/3 of our shelter beds has led to a sharp increase in psychiatric crises, emergency room visits, declining health, and untreated addictive disorders. People seeking shelter typically spend more than 8 hours a day in line, if they’re lucky, they get a bed for just one night. Meanwhile, beds sit empty due to systemic inefficiencies, graft and politics. 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, organizing for change, and through our budget advocacy, preserving programs and services that help homeless people move out of poverty.
Every year San Francisco faces millions of dollars in deficit. The Coalition on Homelessness helped found the Budget Justice Coalition, an alliance of community based organizations and service providers, dedicated to staving off budget cuts to our vital poverty abatement programs.
Meeting Time: Wednesdays at 12:30 (open to public)
Walking in San Francisco’s low income neighborhoods, the difficulties and frustrations on the faces our people waiting to access permanent, affordable housing become clear. 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. The waitlist for family shelters has tripled since the recession began. This year we are facing this crisis head on with documentation, analysis, and action; mobilizing homeless families and individuals 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 the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through 230 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.
If you’re interested in becoming involved in the STREET SHEET‘s work, please come by the Coalition on Homelessness, 468 Turk Street (Between Larkin and Hyde), San Francisco, CA or call 415-346-3740 ext. 309
Street Sheet distribution: Monday-Friday, 9 am-12 noon
New Vendor Orientation: Friday’s @ 10 am