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 Council, Department 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.
During the winter, shelter is crucial to prevent life-threatening conditions like hypothermia caused by exposure to cold weather and rain.
“The Interfaith Winter Shelter Program plays an important role in providing shelter for our chronically homeless neighbors during the winter months, and ECS is proud to continue to offer our operational expertise to support it,” says ECS Executive Director Beth Stokes. “Engaging with guests at the Winter Shelter is a key first step to bringing individuals experiencing homelessness inside, off the streets, and near the critical health services they need to stabilize and move into permanent housing.”
ECS is grateful for the indispensable partnership provided by the San Francisco Interfaith Council (which works to identify the host churches where the overnight shelter is located and to identify the church groups, congregations and community groups that sign up to provide the evening meals throughout the program), the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and the faith communities and volunteers who make the Interfaith Winter Shelter possible every year.
The 2019-2020 Winter Interfaith Shelter Schedule can be found on the on the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing website. More information can be found in Mayor London Breed’s press release (PDF).
The San Francisco Interfaith Council convenes and amplifies the voice of San Francisco’s faith-based community. Its work centers on the important issues of civil rights, homelessness, housing affordability, and disaster preparedness.