Mayor Lee Announces Home for the Holidays Initiative Prioritizing Homeless San Francisco Families in Immediate Need

New Initiative with San Francisco Housing Authority, Human Services Agency & Public-Private Partnership with Benioff Family & Foundation to House Homeless Families Before the End of the Year

12/12/11—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced a new $3 million Home for the Holidays initiative to provide housing for San Francisco homeless families. Beginning immediately, the initiative will target families in San Francisco in immediate need with children in public schools to move them into vacant public housing units or provide rent subsidies for rental units in the private market. Key to funding this program involves the rental subsidy portion that includes the formation of a public and private partnership between Marc and Lynne Benioff and the Foundation, community based non-profit organizations and the City in order to provide immediate relief to families in need and a home for the holidays.

“The Benioff family approached us to see how they could help with getting homeless families into housing. We talked about our plans for addressing this issue, and within 24 hours, the Benioffs agreed to pledge $1.5 million in grants to jump start the new initiative,” said Mayor Lee. “I pledged to bring the public and private sectors together to work on a host of issues during my Mayoral campaign because partnerships like this are going to keep the City moving forward. I thank Marc and Lynne for their leadership and their support of homeless families in need especially now, during the holiday season.”

“Marc and I continue our commitment to ensure every child is provided for, regardless of their resources,” said Lynne Benioff. “We are honored to work closely with Mayor Lee who helped us focus our efforts on where we can make the most impact immediately.”

$1.5 million, the Rental Subsidy portion of the program, will be immediately targeted at San Francisco Community Based Organizations with expertise in placing families in the private market for up to 18 months. The Benioff’s donation will be made to the Foundation who will distribute the funds to local nonprofits that can take immediate action.

The San Francisco Housing Authority and the Human Services Agency will work together to expedite the lease of vacant public housing units for wait list applicants with priority preferences, which include families in the City’s shelter system. This new interdepartmental initiative will prioritize homeless families with children in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

“We estimate that there are approximately over 200 families either in shelter or on the shelter waiting list that we can immediately identify and assist,” said HSA Executive Director Trent Rhorer. “This program is designed to provide a housing option for all of these families.”

“We have been working with HSA to identify homeless families on our waiting list,” said SFHA Executive Director Henry Alvarez. “Our team is working around the clock to get them into vacant units before the holidays, and we believe that we can provide 30 to 40 homeless families with permanent housing.”

“Children without proper housing suffer on all levels and can have more challenges at school,” said SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia. “The School District strongly supports this program and we are committed to working closely with the City to get it going.”

This new initiative comes during the Season of Giving, Mayor Lee’s holiday initiative to highlight the many community-based organizations that serve our diverse communities. Together with some of our City’s social services partners, Mayor Lee encourages all San Franciscans to give back to their own communities by supporting organizations that are providing warm meals, a place to stay and other essential services to the people of San Francisco. These non-profit partners are already providing to our neediest communities and it is more important now than ever for the public to support these collective efforts to provide for those most in need.

The public should contact 311 for additional information on gift giving programs and services that provide the comfort of food and shelter during the holidays.

For more information about the San Francisco Season of Giving campaign, go to: