Emergency Storm Shelters Open in SF & Oakland
By Olivia Wynkoop, Bay City News Foundation
In response to the forecasted stormy weather conditions and flood warnings in the region, San Francisco opened emergency beds for unhoused residents seeking shelter for the next week and a half.
From Tuesday through Jan. 15, the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) is collaborating with various nonprofits to provide shelter and outreach services. Within their system, HSH has repurposed shelter beds, some used for their winter interfaith shelter system, to allow people to walk up to services on a first-come, first-served basis at four locations.
Shireen McSpadden, the executive director for HSH, said the department is trying to keep shelters accessible and flexible as more storms are forecasted in the coming weeks. There were about 170 vacant shelter beds as of Tuesday morning. “We know that the rain is going to be with us for a while, and it’s going to be worse in the next couple of days,” McSpadden said at a news conference Tuesday. Intake times at Next Door, Sanctuary and MSC South runs from 4 to 10 p.m., while St. Mary’s Cathedral will begin accepting guests at 6 p.m.
Alongside Urban Alchemy and Episcopal Community Services, the city will also host an emergency pop-up shelter from noon Wednesday through 10 a.m. Friday at the County Fair Building at 1199 Ninth Ave. There, guests can check in on a first-come, first-serve basis, 24 hours a day, and be served two meals a day. Guests are allowed to bring service animals, a partner if there is room, and are limited to two bags of belongings.
On the ground, HSH’s Homeless Outreach Team is increasing wellness checks, informing unsheltered residents about open beds, and passing out beanies, blankets and ponchos to those who need them, McSpadden said. Residents experiencing homelessness and in need of support are encouraged to contact the Homeless Outreach Team dispatch line at (628) 652-8000.
City officials in Oakland have joined San Francisco and numerous municipalities around the Bay Area in declaring a local state of emergency Wednesday due to the winter storm still pummeling the region. The emergency declaration allows the city to call in any and all staff to respond to emergency conditions as they occur overnight. The city’s public works, transportation, fire and police departments have all staffed up to manage increased service needs, according to the announcement.
The fire department’s crisis responders have been working with unhoused residents to inform them of shelter options and coordinating transportation for those who need it. In addition, the Ira Jinkins Center — at 9175 Edes Ave. near the Coliseum — will be providing three free meals on Thursday as well as providing emergency shelter to all ages and families.
The city’s year-round shelter at St. Vincent de Paul, located at 675 23rd Street in West Oakland, has doubled its bed capacity to serve the homeless through Friday morning enabling them to shelter up to 100 people. For residents who need a temporary refuge from the wet weather, or for those experiencing a power outage, all 18 public library locations are open and have power. Thursday hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and the main library is open until 8 p.m.
See the latest information on Oakland’s winter storm updates.
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