Non-profit group pledges $100M to help solve San Francisco's homeless crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A non-profit group has pledged to raise $100 million to help the city of San Francisco address and solve its ongoing homeless crisis.

The organization, named Tipping Point, says the money will be used to help homeless residents, many of whom often suffer from mental issues, substance abuse or physical ailments.

The group said the multi-million dollar commitment aims to reduce homelessness by half over the next five years. City officials and non-profit leaders made the announcement Monday during a tour of the shelter named Medical Respite and Sobering Center, which is located on Mission Street and now has the resources to add 30 new beds thanks in part to an investment by Tipping Point.


"We all, as San Franciscans, feel this is the issue of our time," said Daniel Lurie, CEO of Tipping Point, which has focused on fighting poverty for the past 12 years. "We know the issue. We wanted to go deep on it because the solutions that we're seeing today have not been enough."

Lurie is working with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's office to specifically tackle chronic homeless cases.

Tipping Point has raised $60 million so far through private donations with hopes to have the remaining $40 million by the end of this year.

The non-profit will decide how the funds should be spent along with input from Lee's office and the city's newly created Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

"There's no silver bullet in the money or program but we're going to work hard on the fact that we have private sector participation," Lee said. "That makes everybody lift their game up."

In 2015, city officials counted about 7,000 homeless people who were living in San Francisco with about 2,000 of them classified as chronic homeless. Those are people like Elias Santos, 47, who has lived in the streets and been in and out of shelters for 10 years.

Originally from Seattle, Santos said he lost his job a decade ago and his life has spiraled since then. When asked whether he suffers from mental illness, physical ailments or substance abuse, he said: "I need dentures. Substance abuse? That's part of the street. Everybody around here does it."

Santos lives under state Highway 101 and scrapes up income by selling bikes that he assembles.

"If we sell one then we have something to eat," said Santos pointing to a pile of scuffed up bikes.

Municipal officials say the chronically homeless cost San Francisco taxpayers about $80,000 each every year in ambulance rides, hospital and jail stays, which is about four times what it costs to provide them with supportive housing.

"Shelters in this town are really good (but) there's just not enough of them," said Wayne Scott, a 73-year-old homeless man who lives in a shelter similar to the Respite Center.

He is a cancer survivor who suffers from a heart condition and a broken shoulder, the most recent ailment.

"It's hard to be in a regular shelter when you're hurt," he said. "In here I feel like I have extra protection."

By KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty.