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Reporting on The View from Outside

PUBLISHED: Apr 02, 2019

Report Features Insights from More Than 300 San Franciscans Experiencing Homelessness

According to the 2017 Point-in-Time Count, almost 7,500 people experience homelessness on the streets of San Francisco each night. Over the course of four weeks, Tipping Point Community—a non-profit that fights poverty in the Bay Area—spoke to 300 of these individuals to get a better understanding of the experience of living without a home and to glean insights about potential solutions. Tipping Point hired a team of peer researchers—people with lived experience of homelessness—to conduct the survey, talking to people in shelters, street corners, and encampments.

Tipping Point recently released the results in a report titled, The View from the Outside, which highlights insights and learnings from the survey and interviews.

The report’s highlights are noteworthy and instructive:

  • Over 66% of Black San Franciscans surveyed have lived in San Francisco for a decade or more—compared to 50% of all people surveyed.
  • 89% of respondents agree that the best way to help someone experiencing homelessness is to support their efforts to find a long-term place to live.
  • Autonomy matters. Respondents ranked basic essentials including access to one’s own bathroom and kitchen above even their own safety when asked about important factors they were looking for in housing.
  • “Family,” “job,” and “it’s home” were among the top reasons why people felt it was important to stay in San Francisco.
  • Many respondents are actively looking for solutions to homelessness and currently helping others in the community. As one respondent said, “I am an individual that wants nothing but to see our City better.”
  • Many respondents reflected on their desire to be seen for their humanity. As one respondent said of others who have experienced homelessness: “Sometimes a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how are you doing’ can make their day.”

In June 2017, Tipping Point announced its $100 million commitment to reduce chronic homelessness in San Francisco. Incorporating the voices of people with lived experience when developing solutions is one critical piece of Tipping Point’s strategy. “We sought the insights of the people that have, unfortunately, become experts at living on our streets,” said Daniel Lurie, CEO + Founder of Tipping Point. “Incorporating their experiences and desires into our solutions is essential. While we know we have a long way to go as a City, we also know we have the ingenuity and the resources to turn our vision into a reality.”

Dr. Margot Kushel, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, authored the foreword to the report, stressing the importance of incorporating the voices of those with lived experience into the development of solutions: “Hearing the voices of the people who live with homelessness every day brings home both the simplicity and the enormity of the task that lies ahead. Solving homelessness will not be easy. But, as the costs—financial and human—of homelessness mount, we have no choice but to try.”

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