The Bay Area Council is urging its members to help secure a $10 million challenge grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, to fund an ambitious campaign that aims to end homelessness for 800 San Francisco families by 2019, including almost 2,000 school children. The Benioffs have pledged personally to match contributions dollar for dollar up to a total of $10 million to help the Heading Home campaign, which was launched in 2015 to respond to a dramatic spike in family homelessness following the Great Recession. Heading Home is run by nonprofit Hamilton Families as part of a collaboration led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee between the city and San Francisco Unified School District with major financial support from private philanthropists like the Benioffs and companies like Google, Zendesk and others.
Heading Home uses a unique approach to rapidly re-house homeless families. The early results have been nothing short of remarkable, with 237 families being successfully moved into permanent housing over the past 18 months. Heading Home case managers remain in regular touch with families about their situation and help them get services they need, which has resulted in more than 90 percent remaining in their housing. The matching grant from Benioff will enable Heading Home to scale up its program to reach its goal of serving 800 families, and bringing down the number of days that a family is living in homelessness before they get help from the current average of 414 to no more than 90. Heading Home has enormous benefits for children, who because of homeless are twice as likely as other children to suffer from hunger, three times more likely to have behavioral issues, four times more likely to get sick, and twice as likely to repeat a grade, be suspended or drop out.