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Direct Access to Housing

San Francisco has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation, aggravated by the city’s expensive housing market and low vacancy rates. The supply of affordable dwellings has decreased in the last twenty years, while waiting lists for subsidized housing have increased.

For people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and often challenged by physical disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse issues, navigating both the application process and the long waiting periods often results in prolonged homelessness. People continue to live on the streets and cycle through emergency systems without adequate support.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health, Housing & Urban Health section (HUH), designed the Direct Access to Housing (DAH) program as an alternative to costly emergency system use. The program provides subsidized housing and other services to homeless adults who have been cycling in and out of emergency services, with the goal of helping each tenant achieve greater residential stability and improved well-being. The target population for the DAH program is low-income individuals with an extensive history of homelessness and who are frequent users of the public health system.  Although the program includes on-site support services, DAH is designed for independent living. Applicants must be able to live independently within a community.

DAH is funded by the General Fund of the City and County of San Francisco.

DAH uses existing housing stock, either by master-leasing entire buildings from private landlords, or by leasing a subset of units at an existing site.  DAH also partners with housing developers to create new housing stock in San Francisco.

The goal of the LSS Money Management program is to improve the health outcomes of chronically homeless adults with special needs by providing support for both access to and retention of supportive housing. The LSS program model was designed in response to HUH’s emphasis on extensive collaboration with both property management and on-site support services, documentation of services provided by LSS, meeting clients’ needs beyond contract requirements, tracking clients’ transactions, and compliance with DAH policies and procedures.

The services provided by the LSS Money Management program include scheduling and completing intakes; rent payments; budget planning; money management education; authorizing disbursement of funds; arranging the receipt of client income; income source compliance, reporting and continuing eligibility; issuing checks according to the budget agreed upon by the client; account reconciliation; maintenance of computer records; crisis intervention; referrals and other services requested by clients; ongoing case coordination with property managers, site-based support service staff, community-based service providers, vendors, Wells Fargo Bank, and income sources; and all necessary reporting.

The LSS program is currently serving 1,163 clients.  Per month, LSS receives over $1,031,000 in client funds from their income sources and makes about $430,000 in rent payments on their behalf.  The remainder is used to pay bills and provide for personal spending.  LSS clients live in 35 DAH supportive housing sites.


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