SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – San Francisco’s shelter program added 420 beds today. The beds will be used to get people off the streets at locations in Lower Nob Hill and the Theater District.

KRON 4 spoke with the CEO of a nonprofit that’s running one of the locations. The shelters are being described as innovative.

The city says Congregate Shelters will always be a part of their homelessness response system. Adding that the pandemic and feedback from those experiencing homelessness led to a new shelter concept.

KRON4 took a look at 700 Post Street in San Francisco. They are a youth hostel turned homeless shelter that will be run by Urban Alchemy.

CEO Dr. Lena Miller says the privacy and independence of individual rooms were a big ask by those experiencing homelessness. “What we learned is that most people do not like congregate shelters, they don’t necessarily like curfews,” she told KRON4. 

250 beds will be offered at 711 Post. Some private and some semi congregate rooms that fit two to four people according to Dr. Miller.

Care coordinators will be on site to help people find permanent options.

KRON ON is streaming news live now

Dr. Miller, tells KRON4, “you figure out what’s going on with people, what’s happening in their lives, what resources they have, what resources they need and try to connect them.”

According to Deputy Director for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Emily Cohen, another 180 private rooms opened Tuesday at The Baldwin SAFE Navigation Center. The sixth street location includes a medical clinic.

Cohen tells KRON4, “you can access benefits, healthcare, and housing assistance.” Dr. Miller says the 430 beds at two locations will be essential as the city phases out the Shelter-In-Place Hotels that were used during the pandemic.

Emily Cohen, Deputy Director Dept. of Homelessness and Supportive Housing

“We go hotel by hotel,” Cohen says, “really work to rehouse the guests that are there making sure people aren’t discharged to the street or not offered an option.” She says 1,100 people who were living in a hotel have been permanently housed.

Some Shelter-In-Place Hotels will continue to operate according to Cohen, and the city has purchased two of the hotels to convert into permanent housing. “Number one thing that we hear from people experiencing homelessness is that they want a safe and dignified place to go inside.”

In addition to the 430 shelter beds that opened today, by September the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing plans on adding back another 592 shelter beds that were taken offline during COVID.