In the News

San Francisco’s New Chief of Homelessness on How to Spend $1 Billion and Get People Housed Quickly

June 25, 2021

Shireen McSpadden took the helm last month as the director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. McSpadden is coming to the department at a pivotal time. At last count, the city had more than 8,000 people experiencing homelessness, and experts have predicted that number could grow as a result of pandemic-related job losses.

She’s overseeing a department with a budget that’s grown more than 60% to nearly $672 million. The dramatic increase is a result of newly released funding from Proposition C, a tax on corporate revenues that voters approved in 2018, to fund new housing and services for people experiencing homelessness.

The former executive director of the Department of Disability and Aging Services, McSpadden takes over from Abigail Stewart-Kahn, who served as interim director of the department during the pandemic after former Director Jeff Kositsky stepped down.

On Thursday, McSpadden toured one of San Francisco’s newest permanent supportive housing sites, the Post Hotel, operated by Episcopal Community Services and Caritas Management Corporation. The converted hotel will provide housing for 89 adults and couples, including 18 existing tenants. Residents will pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent.

Read the full article on KQED here

Give Them Shelter

May 7, 2021

Want to solve America’s urban homeless crisis? First, you have to believe it can be fixed. Anyone who has passed by the seemingly endless rows of hard-worn tents and makeshift shelters scattered under San Francisco’s bridges, beside its freeways, and along its sidewalks has probably struggled to imagine how our nation’s homeless crisis might be solved.

In San Francisco, an estimated 8,000 men, women, and children lack a stable home at any one time. About 2,800 experience chronic, long-term homelessness. And in a city where the cost of living is vastly higher than the national average, a single unit of “supportive” housing — a safe, comfortable place to live accompanied by counseling and other services — can take up to six years to complete and cost taxpayers and/or charities upwards of $600,000.

When it’s finished, the six-story building at 833 Bryant Street (shown here in an artist’s rendering) will be San Francisco’s first 100% affordable modular housing project.

Read the full article in the Stanford Graduate School of Business here.

One Way to Get People Off the Streets: Buy Hotels

May 6, 2021

For homeless people, a place to live is life changing to a degree that almost no other intervention can provide.

SAN FRANCISCO — The inside of the van was lined with plastic. The driver was masked and ready to go. There was a seat for just one passenger.

Gregory Sanchez eyed the setup warily. Mr. Sanchez was 64 and homeless, and the van was there to ferry him from a sidewalk tent to a room where he could shelter from the pandemic. It was good news, blessed news, he said. It was also a little creepy.

Mr. Sanchez didn’t know where he was going, and the sheets of foggy plastic, which coated the seats and windows to prevent the spread of disease, made it impossible to see out the window. Riding away from his longtime home in San Francisco’s Mission District, he cycled through dark possibilities — “It felt like I was in one of those movies where they take you to an army base or something” — before the door opened in front of a boutique hotel. He stepped down from the van and walked to a curved granite reception desk where he set a bin of clothes on a luggage cart.

“I go like, ‘Is this real? Can this be real?’” he said. “And they take me to the room, and the room is beautiful.”

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

San Francisco Interfaith Winter Shelter Returns for Its 31st Year

November 19, 2019
Watch a video celebrating the San Francisco Interfaith Winter Shelter’s 30th year in 2018.

The low temperatures and wet weather of San Francisco’s winter months are dangerous for people experiencing homelessness, and particularly those who are unsheltered and vulnerable to exposure-related illnesses. Starting on November 24, 2019, Episcopal Community Services (ECS), in collaboration with partners the San Francisco Interfaith CouncilDepartment of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and San Francisco Night Ministry will once again launch the Interfaith Winter Shelter Program. The shelter will be hosted by the congregations of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, First Unitarian Universalist Society, and by ECS at the Canon Kip Senior Center.

Now in its 31st year, the Interfaith Winter Shelter Program provides a low-barrier overnight shelter for up to 100 men experiencing homelessness, as well as dinner and breakfast cooked and served by more than 50 volunteer groups. This year, the shelter will be open from November 24, 2019 until March 28, 2020. While staying at the shelter, guests will have the option to engage with members of the San Francisco Night Ministry, who will be onsite to offer chaplaincy services, as well as ECS Problem Solvers, who take an innovative, highly personalized approach to help people experiencing homelessness find creative solutions and pathways to housing.


ECS Focuses on Healthy Aging

October 2, 2019
Ladies enjoying the annual luau held at ECS’s Canon Kip Senior Center in August.

ECS has long been one of San Francisco’s leading providers of interim and supportive housing and other services for seniors who are low-income and/or homeless (currently or formerly). In fact, this group comprises roughly one‐third of residents at ECS shelters and supportive housing sites. The Canon Kip Senior Center serves more than 1,400 seniors annually, providing a vital hub of daytime meals, case management services, and community activities for older adults.

Seniors are the fastest growing demographic among homeless populations—their number is expected to double in major cities over the next decade. That’s one reason why we’re more focused than ever on healthy aging for seniors who are homeless and/or low-income.


Adult Coordinated Entry: SF’s Gateway to Exiting Homelessness

September 5, 2019

Episcopal Community Services (ECS) operates San Francisco’s Adult Coordinated Entry (ACE) system, the gateway for people experiencing homelessness in the city to be matched with the services they need.

Through Adult Coordinated Entry, ECS helps find solutions to homelessness for clients like “Janice,” “Sean,” and their dog Prince.

ECS became the lead agency of ACE for the SF Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in November 2018. This critical system was designed to provide a clear, standardized, citywide system to assess and prioritize the needs of people living on the streets, as well as a streamlined process to connect them to solutions to help them exit homelessness.

ACE is essential to effectively assessing and identifying the most vulnerable individuals and prioritizing them for solutions at Navigation Centers, as well as permanent supportive housing. Since ACE launched in fall of 2018, ECS and its ACE partners have assessed over 6,000 people experiencing homelessness to determine their eligibility for ACE services. The program has helped at least 543 people find housing and another 305 move off the streets and into Navigation Centers.


ECS Problem Solvers: Finding Creative, Personalized Solutions to Homelessness

August 13, 2019
ECS’s Problem Solvers help people like “Uranchimeg” (name changed for confidentiality) find personalized pathways to safe homes. In her case, they helped her reconnect with her sister and provided the resources needed for her to return to Mongolia to live with her.

By Josh Steinberger, Associate Manager of Problem Solving

Episcopal Community Services’s (ECS) Problem Solvers take an innovative, highly personalized approach to help people experiencing homelessness find creative solutions and pathways to housing. As affordable and supportive housing are available to only a limited number of persons, particularly those with the greatest need, this division of our Adult Coordinated Entry program takes an alternative approach.

Since November 2018 when the program launched, this team of more than a dozen Problem Solvers has worked closely with more than 450 people to provide a fresh look at opportunities in their specific situation to find safe homes. Of the total, 372 people have found housing.


IPS: A Proven Solution for Employment in the Fight against Homelessness

July 9, 2019

By Beth Stokes
Executive Director, Episcopal Community Services

Emery Cowan and Rick Degette, experts on Individual Placement and Support, shared lessons on how to integrate employment into homeless systems of care.

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based practice designed primarily to help people with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing. The model has also evolved to serve others, including transition‐aged youth, veterans, justice‐involved individuals, people receiving public benefits, and, significantly, people experiencing homelessness.

In June, Episcopal Community Services was proud to host a packed discussion on IPS at Google’s office in San Francisco, where nationally recognized experts Rick DeGette and Emery Cowan shared lessons on the process of integrating employment support into homeless systems of care. Speaking to a crowd of homeless service providers from ECS, the City of San Francisco, and other organizations, they reviewed the basic principles of implementing IPS, how those principles have been applied successfully in other counties, states, and organizations, and how this process might be applied for San Francisco’s homeless population.


Navigation Centers Are a Key Element to Ending Homelessness

July 9, 2019

By Beth Stokes
Executive Director, Episcopal Community Services

Bryant Navigation Center

Navigation Centers are a critical tool in the effort to end homelessness in San Francisco. They provide a low-barrier respite from the streets for a highly vulnerable population, in tandem with on-site case management, streamlined access to social services and medical care, and coordinated entry into pathways to permanent housing.

In 2015, Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco (ECS), in partnership with the City of San Francisco, opened the city’s first Navigation Center at 1950 Mission St. and currently manages the Central Waterfront and Bryant Navigation Centers. In addition, ECS provided training and support to 5 Keys, which manages the Bayshore Center. 

Navigation Centers have shown strong signs of success in helping people exit homelessness, and they are different from traditional shelters in a number of ways. Navigation Centers have few barriers to entry and provide intensive case management to connect people to the unique care and housing solutions they need. They provide community space and welcome people with partners, pets, and possessions. Clients receive personalized support to help address housing barriers such as a lack of personal identity documents, employment opportunities, or histories of eviction. 


Join Chef Martin Yan And “The Foodie Chap” Liam Mayclem at Episcopal Community Services 15th Annual CHEFS Gala on May 2, 2019

April 8, 2019


Join Chef Martin Yan
And “The Foodie Chap” Liam Mayclem
Episcopal Community Services
15th Annual CHEFS Gala
on May 2, 2019

Tickets on sale now at

San Francisco, CA, April 8th, 2019 – Beth Stokes, Executive Director, and the Board of Episcopal Community Services (ECS) of San Francisco, a leader in San Francisco’s plan to create more supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, are proud to announce the organization’s 15th annual CHEFS Gala fundraiser on May 2, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at Bespoke, located at 845 Market Street atop Westfield Centre.

We are honored to welcome international television icon, Master Chef, food consultant and prolific cookbook author, Chef Martin as our celebrity emcee. Chef Yan is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from The James Beard Foundation Awards, The Antonin Careme Medal, The American Culinary Federation, and the American Academy of Chefs. We are also pleased to announce Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality Liam Mayclem as our auctioneer for the evening. Mayclem is best known as the host of Eye on the Bay on CBS 5 and “The Foodie Chap,” celebrating San Francisco Bay Area culinary stars daily on KCBS Radio.

“We are thrilled to partner with high caliber foodies of Chef Martin and Liam Mayclem for this year’s Gala,” says ECS Executive Director Beth Stokes. “Their support of ECS and the people we serve is testimony to the necessity of addressing homelessness in San Francisco.”

CHEFS Gala seeks to raise awareness of ECS’s vital programs, including the marquee CHEFS program. This 10-12 week culinary training program provides people impacted by homelessness and poverty with technical and professional skills through classroom instruction, hands-on kitchen training, and a local food service internship.

“ECS Workforce Development Programs offer a vital component to help homeless individuals find housing through employment. Our CHEFS program offers those interested in the culinary field a roadmap not just towards employment but more importantly a career in the culinary industry,” said Jason Pruett, Director of Workforce Development & Social Enterprise. “Along with the culinary skills attained, CHEFS helps to instill confidence and boost self-esteem in our participants setting them on a path towards a successful future. “

Guests at the event will enjoy tastings and cocktails from a variety of the City’s finest restaurants and from ECS’s own CHEFS program while participating in live and silent auctions. The fundraiser aims to raise awareness about San Franciscans experiencing homelessness and provide funds for housing, services, and job training for the 7,200 people who access ECS’s services annually. The 15th Annual CHEFS Gala looks to build on its momentum from previous years by creating even more opportunities for the very low-income men, women, and children that ECS serves annually.

Many generous Bay Area restaurants, wineries, and breweries are rallying behind ECS and its mission to help homeless San Franciscans. Guests will enjoy bites from top San Francisco restaurants including Sorrel, Octavia, Nopa, Louie’s Gen-Gen Room at Liholiho Yacht Club, Smitten Ice Cream, Boulevard, Delfina, Rooh, and more. Guests will enjoy cocktails provided by Tonic Beverage Catering, as well as libations from Maven, Petrichor Wines, Bonny Doon Vineyard, and Pond Farm Brewing. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at

For more than 35 years, ECS has pushed boundaries through innovative programs such being chosen by the city of San Francisco, in conjunction with Mercy Housing, to build and operate San Francisco’s largest permanent supportive housing development for formerly homeless people near Mission and 7th Streets. The two-building development will provide permanent homes for up to 265 households experiencing chronic homelessness, with 100 new units allocated to formerly homeless seniors, age 62 or older. With prime Mission Street frontage and over 5,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, the new 7th & Mission development will also be the spectacular new site of ECS’s CHEFS workforce development program and an affiliated foodservice social enterprise. Since it’s founding, over 1,000 formerly homeless and very low-income students have participated in the CHEFS program.

Lead CHEFS Gala sponsors include staunch ECS supporters Bi-Rite Family of Businesses, Cahill Contractors LLC, Caritas Property Management, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Herman Coliver Locus Architecture, MUFG Union Bank Foundation, Hood & Strong, Keller & Benvenutti LLP, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, Silicon Valley Bank, Sutter Health CPMC, Xantrion and Zendesk.

About Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco
Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco (ECS) has provided essential services to homeless and very low-income San Franciscans since 1982, utilizing a holistic approach that addresses the multiple causes leading to homelessness. The agency serves more than 7,000 people a year – through emergency shelters, Navigation Centers, 12 permanent supportive housing sites, adult education, workforce development, and a senior day center — guided by a mission to help homeless and very low-income people obtain the housing, shelter, and services each person needs to prevent and end homelessness. For more information about ECS, visit 

Tickets: Click here to purchase.

Social Media Assets:
Twitter: @ecs_sf    #CHEFSGalaSF
Instagram: @ecs_sf

 Media Contact:
Jenn Soult
Episcopal Community Services
Communications Manager
415-487-3300 x1249