Let’s be honest, this is a tough year to write about gratitude.

San Franciscans, most especially those experiencing homelessness, have suffered more deeply this year with increased fear and risk of grave illness. As the pandemic dampens holiday season spirits for all, it becomes easier to count losses rather than blessings. That is until I “think HSH” and plug myself into the inspiring HSH workforce each morning to partner with some of the most dedicated, creative, driven and generous colleagues and nonprofit partners I have ever had the honor of working with. And so even, or especially, amidst the unprecedented uncertainty, I find myself tapping into the gratitude at the heart of this season of giving. And today I find myself:

~Grateful that San Francisco came together with an ambitious plan to shelter over 2,600 COVID-19 vulnerable individuals, families and Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) experiencing homelessness in SIP hotels, mitigating the spread of COVID and making the City safer for both housed and unhoused residents

~Grateful for the millions of connections with clients that have happened through each component of the Homelessness Response System, and through the City’s emergency response as we adjusted facilities, policies, and approaches throughout our entire system of care, while reminding one another to stay masked and socially distanced

~Grateful to our nonprofit providers and essential frontline workers who share and demonstrate every day HSH’s values of compassion, common sense, and courage, and continue to come to the table for tough conversations with candor and empathy encouraging us to always dig deeper and do better

~Grateful that our team and partners have outreached, educated, sheltered, supported, and maintained housing for thousands and thousands of homeless and formerly homeless neighbors against all odds

~Grateful that Mayor London Breed’s Homelessness Recovery Plan proposes the largest expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing in 20 years

~Grateful that Governor Newsom increased our ability to shelter people through the State’s Project Roomkey and Project Homekey programs that helped house thousands along with funding the purchase of over 360 units of Permanent Supportive Housing

~Grateful to partners at Tipping Point Community and Brilliant Corners for the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool that will transition hundreds of vulnerable homeless residents into permanent housing

~Grateful that our reunification program, Homeward Bound, has helped more than 11,000 people reconnect with their loved ones since its formation

~Grateful that we, along with City staff and our provider partners are committed to ensuring that no one in our hotels get moved back on the street through the SIP Rehousing Plan

And, finally, grateful that our great City deeply understands that housing is healthcare

I truly believe that if we stay focused, our moment is now to turn this disaster that has impacted all of us across the globe into an opportunity to prevent homelessness for those impacted by economic turmoil, and house thousands of people experiencing homelessness and move closer to our goal of making homelessness in San Francisco rare, brief, and one-time.

~ASK

Abigail Stewart-Kahn is the Interim Director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. She and her family live, work and attend school in San Francisco and consider themselves committed residents of the City. https://hsh.sfgov.org/about/leadership/

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

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