San Francisco school proposes housing homeless students and families

At Buena Vista Horace Mann Community School in San Francisco's Mission District, teachers and administrators say dozens of students are struggling through a problem no child should have to face: homelessness.

"There is a level of desperation in our student body that is unprecedented," said Claudia DeLarios Moran, the school's vice-principal.

They say that trauma makes its way into the classroom.

"We have students sleeping in cars, asking different relatives if they can sleep on their couch. They are sleeping in BART stations and tents," she said.

The school has proposed an idea to city leaders. Turn the gymnasium into an overnight shelter for at least some of the school's approximately 60 homeless children and their families.

"What we are trying to do is find a place for our families who come to the school for safety and security," said Richard Zapien, the school's principal.

The city and the school district are looking into it. They estimate the cost at $900,000 dollars. They would have to add lighting and security among other items.

But city leaders believe it appears doable.

"On many levels, this makes sense to me. But it is a proposal. It is a work in progress where we want to fill in the details in collaboration within the school community," said San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

There is support for the idea among parents.

"That's amazing. I'm proud to be a part of that," said parent Juanita Lucero.

But there is also parents with doubts. 

"I think it is the City of San Francisco's responsibility to solve the housing crisis, not a public school," said parent Johanna Lopez Miyaki.

"There are already so many needs for students not being met. To bring in another need on top of needs not being met is cause for a lot of concern," she said.  

Under the proposal, a non-profit agency would operate the shelter and help families get services.

But supporters of the idea agree a lot of details still need ironing out, including how many families could stay overnight, and which ones.

"If we can offer a place that is dry. If we can offer a meal. A place to do homework. A place of trust. Then this is a step up for them," said Delarios Moran

If all the plans fall into place, the district says the shelter could open in October.