News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor Lee Announces Expanded Temporary Winter Shelters for Expected El Niño Storms

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced expanded shelter for homeless living on the streets during anticipated wet El Niño storms. The National Weather Service is predicting several days of significant rain and has issued a flash flood watch in San Francisco. With heavy rain comes the potential for power outages, downed trees, flooded storm drains, flash floods and mudslides. San Francisco has already been actively preparing for possible strong El Niño storms since the fall and has been encouraging residents and businesses to do the same.

“San Francisco has conducted extensive planning for the expected El Niño winter storms so that City government, residents and businesses are prepared, ready and resilient,” said Mayor Lee. “In partnership with our nonprofit service providers and the Interfaith Council, we are making sure people who are homeless have access to a dry and warm place to sleep, receive hot meals and access to health care and other services in the City of Saint Francis. I urge residents to call 311 if they encounter anyone who is in need of shelter.”

The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) is opening additional shelter beds in response to El Niño. These emergency shelters are located throughout San Francisco and supplement the City’s existing shelter system. At some sites, people can bring pets and belongings. HSA will provide sleeping mats, blankets, and hygiene kits. Meals will be provided by the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Project Open Hand, and Glide. As part of the emergency response, the Department of Public Health will provide physical and mental health services and referrals.

For this storm period, with predicted rain and wind gusts, HSA is activating pop up shelters, including at Glide Memorial, Larkin Street Youth, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, and Providence. In addition a shelter at Gene Friend Recreation Center in the South of Market neighborhood will open at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 10th through Monday, March 14th and can shelter 125 homeless men and women.

HSA has already opened and will keep open a number of extra emergency shelter spaces throughout the winter, including at:
  • Next Door in the Tenderloin
  • United Council of Human Services in the Bayview
  • MSC-South in South of Market
  • Pier 80
HSA’s regular shelter system includes more than 1,100 shelter beds and the expanded shelter adds 534 beds across San Francisco this weekend. The City’s expanded shelters last weekend had about 80-90 vacancies.

Outreach to homeless residents will be conducted by the Department of Public Health’s Homeless Outreach Team (SF HOT), which also provides transportation to shelters. The public is encouraged to call 311 if they see anyone in need of shelter.

San Francisco Public Works and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) have distributed more than 20,000 sandbags this winter rainy season to help residents and businesses prepare for the storms. Residents and business owners received up to 10 free sandbags to help protect their property. Sandbags will continue to be available for San Francisco residents and businesses throughout the winter storm season at the Public Works’ operations yard, 2323 Cesar Chavez St. (Marin/Kansas street gate). They can be retrieved Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

SFPUC will deploy over 400 feet of interlocking, water-tight flood barriers to minimize the impact of anticipated heavy rains in one low-lying Mission neighborhood. The recycled water-filled barriers will be removed after the heavy rains have passed or when any flooding has subsided.

Additionally, Public Works and the SFPUC are clearing catch basins, pruning trees and performing other storm-preparation work, and are prepared to respond to storm-related hazards to keep all San Franciscans safe.

Emergency responders and maintenance crews are on standby to respond to flooding, downed trees, obstructed roadways, and life-threatening emergencies. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is coordinating the City’s planning, response, and recovery from El Niño-related storms.

The public has a role in helping San Francisco recover from an emergency—and being prepared at home or work is a major part of that. San Franciscans are encouraged to visit to learn how to get prepared for any type of emergency. The public is also encouraged to register for to receive emergency notifications and information via text message and email. For more information and emergency alerts sent via text message please text ‘AlertSF’ to 415-888-777.

  • If you experience a power outage please report the outage by calling 1-800-743-5002. In addition, please do not use candles to light your home. 
  • Keep an eye on your storm drain, if it gets backed up and you can safely clear it, please do or call 311.
  • If there is a chance of flash flooding, get to higher ground immediately. 
  • If you have any outdoor furniture, please tie it down or move it inside. 
  • If you see downed trees, debris in the road or on sidewalks, or flooded roadways please call 311.
  • If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency call 911.