SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A school in San Francisco’s Mission District is considering a first-of-its-kind plan to tackle the growing housing crisis and help its students and their families who are struggling to find a place to live.
The San Francisco Unified School District reports that in the 2015-2016 school year, there were more than 2,000 students in short-term motels, temporary shelters or living in cars or on the streets.
The program is being proposed at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8. Irma Nunez has two kids here at the Mission District school.
“The first thing they need is a place to sleep,” said Nunez.
She knows a lot students and their parents who are struggling to find and maintain a living situation.
“They spend the night in their cars or on BART, and that’s not good for kids,” said Nunez. “And when I come to school, they feel warm and they want to sleep. They can’t concentrate and focus on school.”
School leaders say more than 60 children out of their student population of 600 at Buena Vista Horace Mann are living without safe or stable housing.
School officials want to allow 20 families whose kids attend the school to stay overnight in the school gym while they look for permanent housing.
The space would be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night.
“Our homeless students who are falling behind academically who are crying out and emotionally are not getting better. Even with academic services and counseling,” said Buena Vista Horace Mann Vice Principal Claudia DeLarios Moran. “So what that points to and the reason why we came up with this idea is that we need to do more to meet their needs.”
“We’re talking about a space it is a gymnasium and let’s be real that is not someone’s ideal house. We’re not intending to replicate the city is public housing initiatives,” explained Buena Vista Horace Mann Principal Richard Zapien. “What we’re trying to do is find a place for families here and students here that come to the school for safety, security and a place to put their heads down for the night.”
Some parents have big concerns of safety, security and the overall logistics of turning a gym into a temporary shelter and then back into a gym in time for the start of school. But Irma Nunez said she isn’t worried.
“We know the parents,” said Nunez. “We know what they’re facing and I don’t feel that we need to have concerns about these kinds of situations.”
The program could launch later this year, but it would not be until October of the next academic year. The program would be funded by the city of San Francisco.