In 1988, Paul Boden, Joe Wilson, Greg Francis and Laura Ware of the Coalition on Homelessness wrote a study, “Transitional Housing: The Next Step”, that called on the City of San Francisco to prioritize the creation of affordable housing and deemphasize the provision of transitional housing and shelters. They also proposed that the basic premise of transitional housing be reconsidered – that housing be developed in which the tenants stayed permanently and the staff moved on as residents established the ability to manage their own community. This proposition, radical at the time, became the driving force that has guided our work ever since.
After Mayor Art Agnos reviewed the study’s recommendations, the City adopted them as formal policy. But it was the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 that proved the catalyst to implementing its ideas. The earthquake had damaged many of the hotels used for emergency housing by the Department of Human Services and triggered the release of municipal emergency housing funds, as well as FEMA funds to support reconstruction projects. Supplemented by private foundation grants, this influx of funding led to the convening of several city departments with local nonprofits, and ultimately galvanized a partnership between two coalitions.
The stakeholder meetings decided that the Council of Community Housing Organizations, a San Francisco coalition of non-profit housing developers, and the Coalition on Homelessness, an advocacy group, would work together to create a new organization whose specific mission was to develop affordable properties that would help homeless people secure stable housing.
With similar philosophies and work structures, the two coalitions moved quickly to create the new entity and establish the infrastructure of Community Housing Partnership.