SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco city officials Monday lauded a $1.5 million private grant to provide housing for homeless families while also holding a hearing at City Hall on Monday morning to discuss the recent rise in family homelessness.

The grant, given to the city by Marc and Lynne Benioff of, is targeting dozens of families who have children in public schools and who the city hopes to provide housing for before the holidays.

Mayor Ed Lee thanked the Benioffs in a statement, saying “partnerships like this are going to keep the city moving forward.”

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

The announcement of the grant came on the same day that the Board of Supervisors was holding a committee hearing on the topic of family homelessness.

The hearing at the board’s City Operations and Neighborhood Services committee was called for by Supervisor John Avalos, who called the problem “a crisis, not just for the families in crisis, but for all of our systems of care.”

Avalos said there are 253 families currently on the waiting list for long-term shelter and the city “is not providing the adequate response” to the problem.

He praised the grant from the Benioffs, which will allow the city to refer 51 families to permanent housing as soon as Tuesday, according to Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Department of Human Services.

Rhorer said the $1.5 million grant is being matched by city funds that will help either move families into vacant public housing units or provide rent subsidies.

“The biggest barrier to housing is income, particularly with the high costs of a city like San Francisco,” he said.

Dariush Kayhan, deputy director of the mayor’s office of housing, said indeed that the issue for most families is not substance abuse or mental health but “simply a housing problem” in the city because of “a dearth of affordable housing and a lack of income.”

Jennifer Friedenbach from the Coalition on Homelessness, which had held a rally outside City Hall two weeks ago on the issue of homeless families, said the large grant and the public hearing are “a very serious response by the city,” which Friedenbach said should be “embracing this very fundamental right to housing.”

Dozens of people spoke at the meeting, including many who brought up their young children to talk about the travails of trying to provide permanent housing for their family.

Avalos closed the hearing by thanking the families for sharing their “very personal stories.”

He said, “They made me feel very uncomfortable … but we need to hear those things” to understand the depth of the problem.

Lee said that the private grant from the Benioffs was an example of his Season of Giving holiday initiative, which seeks to highlight the community-based organizations that serve city residents.

For a list of local nonprofits to give donations to, visit or call 311.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Nerissa says:

    Good Morning,

    I was asking if your program or churches knows of any programs that help working families with deposit money, and help with debt…My husband are working and my husband just started his job and does not get paid until the end of the year we have been homeless since 11/30/2011 when our program let us know we could not re new our lease because they needed the apartment…we found a place to rent to us but are in need of $1195 for Deposit and $1424.64 to pay off another apartment complex that we had owed back in 2008 when we first became homeless due to my husband losing both of his jobs and my day care closing due to most of my families losing their jobs…we have been in and out of shelters, we had to sleep in our car while I was pregnant until a shelter opened up, when we finally got our place in Hayward we lived their for two years but the program is only a two year program and so now we are homeless again until we can take acre of the deposit and the apartment debt. We are really wanting to rent this apartment because it’s also across the street from a day care program that will take our 6 month old and 2 year old at no cost to our family …right now my husband works for IHSS in San Francisco and works once I get home from my job I have had my job for the last year in a half I just work only part time and I currently work a commission job but lack of housing I cannot focus on anything but where our family is going to sleep, it has been difficult couch surfing nightly, and going to work and trying to go to school…Please if you have any referrals for the Bay area that can help us as soon as possible that would be great…the apartment we are looking to rent in located in the City of Alameda Thanks

  2. Jennifer says:

    A very minvog appreciation – I love the convergence of you and your 12 year-old daughter (and maybe your 12 year-old self, too?) sharing earbuds. And now I’m going to listen to Quadrophenia in a whole new way. Thank you.

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