It has been a whirlwind of a month since I stepped into the role of Director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. I pledged to spend my first few months listening to all stakeholders so that I can get a sense of what’s working, what’s challenging, and where we need to provide stronger support. I am grateful to all of those who have spent time talking with me. I have learned so much and I am rapidly gaining many insights into the needs of the Department. Across the board, I have encountered awe-inspiring expertise, compassion and knowledge. San Francisco’s homelessness and supportive housing network is an amazing group of committed, hard-working people.

I have spent many years — as executive director at the Department of Disability and Aging Services and in the nonprofit sector — working to improve the lives of San Franciscans who need services to live their best lives. I am deeply committed to improving the quality of life for people experiencing homelessness and improving the Homeless Response System to more effectively and efficiently end homelessness for people in our community.

We all know that there are no easy solutions to homelessness. However, the Mayor’s historic Homelessness Recovery Plan puts in motion the largest expansion of permanent supportive housing in more than 20 years. Our recent Homekey-funded purchases of the Granada and Diva hotels are a strong start that add approximately 362 units of permanent supportive housing to our portfolio. That alone changes the lives of hundreds of people. With unprecedented resources dedicated to addressing homelessness locally, we as a community have an incredible opportunity — and responsibility — to prevent and end homelessness for thousands of San Franciscans.

I also have received many comments about equity, and about the impact of our work. It is clear to me that we can improve our collaboration with and support of our communities, especially those most impacted by homelessness and poverty. We owe it to our clients to measure and understand the impact of our programs and services. We need to engage all stakeholders — those we serve, our community partners, staff, and other departments — to ensure that we are providing services equitably and effectively.

The increase in State funding, the Federal emergency voucher program, and Proposition C provide us with a chance to deepen and improve the City’s response to homelessness in a variety of ways. We will be growing our staff and the capacity of our department; we will have increased funding for programs; and we will have the opportunity to pilot new ideas. I’m humbled by the level of commitment that I’ve seen, and I’m certain that we can take major steps in fulfilling our mission to make the experience of homelessness in our city rare, brief, and one-time.

I look forward to regularly sharing more with you on this platform and via this blog.

Thank you for your partnership.

Shireen

Shireen McSpadden is the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing for the City and County of San Francisco.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing strives to make homelessness in San Francisco rare, brief, and one time.