Street Sheet’s radical guide to supporting houseless people during the cold season (and always)
As yet another atmospheric river heads for San Francisco, unhoused San Franciscans are getting ready for a cold, wet holiday season. Unsheltered people bear the brunt of our changing climate, as tents are not an alternative to safe and permanent housing. Keeping dry is an unending challenge during wet and rainy months.
While there is increased need in unsheltered communities during the winter months, support is also needed year-round. Homelessness does not end when Spring begins—your unhoused neighbors will still need your solidarity when the spirit of holiday giving evaporates with the winter rains. All of the organizations and individuals listed work hard year-round to uplift unsheltered communities and need your support.
This guide was created to shed light on some ways you can support homeless communities in San Francisco, and was inspired by our sister paper Street Spirit in Oakland. The organizations listed work directly with unhoused people to meet their immediate needs, and many have homeless leadership. In the spirit of mutual aid, we have also included opportunities to support individuals who are fundraising for themselves, as well as ways to meet people and provide support in person. Working together as a community goes much further than simply providing charity from the comfort of home.
At the Crossroads
About: At The Crossroads reaches out to homeless youth and young adults at their point of need, and works with them to build healthy and fulfilling lives. By bringing their services directly onto the streets, we cultivate long-term, unconditional relationships with young people who would otherwise be disconnected from consistent support.
Support: In addition to making a monetary donation, consider hosting a drive for supplies to distribute to homeless youth. At the Crossroads accepts donations of new or very gently used clothing of all sizes, shoes, messenger bags, backpacks, full-sized and travel-sized hygiene items, food, and more. If you have a connection to a business or manufacturer that may be able to donate any of these items, email email@example.com to let them know!
Burrito Project SF
About: A community-supported group that gets together to make and deliver burritos to the community in hunger or living on the street. The group is 100% organized by volunteers and is passionate about bringing people together to make a difference. 100% of donations go towards purchasing ingredients and supplies to make and deliver food.
Volunteer: Visit their website to sign up for a shift delivering burritos to unhoused neighbors!
Coalition on Homelessness
About: The Coalition on Homelessness (COH) is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of homeless people in San Francisco. Since 1987, they have organized grassroots campaigns to advocate for policy change and create permanent solutions to homelessness. Through outreach, they build community and work to protect the human rights of those forced to remain on the streets.
About: DOPE Project works to uplift the voices and experiences of people who use drugs and bring harm reduction strategies to scale. For more than 25 years, they’ve worked with communities to create, sustain, and expand evidence-based harm reduction programs and policies. The DOPE Project provides naloxone distribution at over 20 sites per month, at needle exchanges, drop-in centers, methadone clinics and in single-room occupancy hotels in San Francisco. They also provide overdose prevention groups and naloxone distribution as requested at organizations that provide services to drug users. Trainings on overdose prevention are available to service providers in San Francisco who want to learn how to help their program participants stay safe. All DOPE Project services are provided free of charge. Additionally, the DOPE Project networks with overdose prevention programs across the US in order to foster a community of naloxone providers. They provide assistance to any program that wishes to start distributing naloxone or providing overdose prevention groups and can provide resources and connections to other programs doing this work.
Support: To get involved or to get support email firstname.lastname@example.org
El/la Para Translatinas
Location: 2940 16th St, #319 San Francisco, CA 94103
About: El/La is an organization for translatinas that works to build collective vision and action to promote our survival and improve our quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because we exist in a world that fears and hates transgender people, women and immigrants, El/la fights for justice. They respond to those who see us as shameful, disposable or less than human. They are here to reflect the style and grace of our survival, and to make new paths for ourselves.
About: Faithful Fools is a community. They are often called upon to be the “space in-between.” They are there when other agencies can’t be. Sometimes it takes too much time to arrange for a taxi voucher to get to an appointment, so they provide a ride. Providing extra dollars for an extraordinary expense sometimes doesn’t fit within a traditional non-profit’s budget. That might be paying for the cremation of someone whose family is struggling with medical expenses or it might be paying for a background check in order to get a job. That’s when Faithful Fools steps in. They maintain the human resources to accompany people when needed and maintain a small assistance budget to help with the expenses that can make the difference between being housed and being homeless.
Donate: Operating expenses like utilities and salaries are often not covered by grants, so Faithful Fools depends upon donations for the bulk of our budget. The majority of donors give a few hundred dollars a year (some give $10 or $15 a month) and it all makes a difference.
Get involved: Faithful Fools organizes Street Retreats to offer education about life on the street in the Tenderloin. Email email@example.com to participate
Homeless Youth Alliance (HYA)
About: HYA develops relationships with youth and young adults aged 13-29 who live on the street in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. This neighborhood is an international destination for youth who come seeking refuge from abusive families, alienating foster care and group home situations, and juvenile justice system involvement. These homeless young people encounter constant threats to both their physical and mental health while on the streets.
Support: HYA accepts monetary and in-kind donations (including clothing, food, hygiene supplies, dog food and other pet care supplies, sleeping bags, tents, tarps, blankets, office furniture and supplies, clean and unopened needles and other medical supplies).
Volunteer: HYA is looking for volunteers to support with community clean up days in Golden Gate Park on the last Friday of every month, and for support with freecycling needed goods from craigslist and other platforms to be distributed to community members. Email kenn@HomelessYouthAlliance.org to get involved!
Martin de Porres House of Hospitality
About: Martin’s, as it is affectionately known, is a free restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays. Their mission is to serve in the spirit of compassion, understanding and love. They are a community of people with diverse spiritual practices although our roots are in, and they continue to be inspired by, the Catholic Worker Movement. Each person who comes to Martin’s is a guest and is to be treated as such. All donations go to benefit those for whom the money is intended and we receive no Church or government funds. Martin’s is operated 100% by volunteers since it first opened in 1971.
Volunteer: Martin’s is staffed entirely by volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering call 415-552-0240 during normal hours
About: People’s Park is a historic plot of land in South Berkeley that was occupied by community members, activists, UC Berkeley students, and others in 1969 to reclaim the park from UC development. Thanks to these efforts, the land was returned to the community and has been a radical community gathering place for the last 52 years. The park is fertile ground for political organizing and cultural change, a crucial site of refuge for unhoused people, and an important community gathering place for the neighborhood.
Needs: The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group is currently fundraising for their legal fund to defend the park against UC Berkeley’s plans to build a 12-story student housing project. Their long range purpose is to establish a People’s Park Historic District to protect, preserve, and enhance public understanding of the irreplaceable open space and of the significant architectural and cultural landmarks and historic events unique to the Southside campus area of UC Berkeley.
You can donate to their legal fund on GoFundMe at: bit.ly/PP-legal
They are also fundraising for the continued growth and development of the gardens at the park. You can donate to their garden fund on GoFundMe at this link: bit.ly/PP-garden
Lastly, People’s Park organizers are collecting Christmas gifts to distribute to the people who live and spend time in the park. They are looking for anything that might make a nice gift, as well as socks, shoes, coats, tarps, and tents. Gifts can be dropped off in person (or mailed to):
C/O People’s Park Council
2022 Blake St Suite A Berkeley CA, 94704
About: POOR Magazine is a poor, Houseless, indigenous people led movement dedicated to creating art, education media and self-determined solutions to the crisis of homelessness. Find their recent book projects at the link above.
“Homefulness is a homeless, landless peoples solution to homelessness—we share the medicine of Homefulness with the world #HomefulnessTheWorld”
Needs: You can support the work of POOR Magazine by contributing to their GoFundMe: bit.ly/poor-mag
Or by buying one of their books. They have eight new titles available for purchase online, such as The Homefulness Handbook, Chimali, Crip Lyrics, What’s My Address, and more. Find them online at www.poorpress.net
St. James Infirmary
Location: 730 Polk Street 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94109
About: The St. James Infirmary is a clinic for Sex Workers run by Sex Workers. They increase access to primary healthcare and social services for Sex Workers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, formalize communication and collaboration among individuals and agencies who serve Sex Workers to better serve our community, and promote peer-based public health initiatives on behalf of Sex Workers, which may be used as a model for improving occupational health and safety standards and developing comprehensive medical and social services for Sex Workers around the world.
Support: Visit the SJI website to donate and support their incredible programs. You can also support by donating clothing, sex worker supplies, toiletries, gift cards and other materials to be distributed to the community.
Volunteer: Do you have Clinic experience, Healthcare related skills or amazing ideas on ways you want to help serve our Community? Can you commit to 6-10 hours a month (includes shifts and monthly volunteer meeting)? Join a team of dedicated volunteers in providing to the sex worker community. St. James Infirmary prioritizes people with experience in the sex trades in the volunteer program; allies are also welcome to apply, with the understanding that St. James Infirmary is a peer-based clinic.Visit their website to submit an online application.
About: TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender-variant and intersex people, inside and outside of prisons, jails, and detention centers, creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. They work in collaboration with others to forge a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against human rights abuses, imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures. They seek to create a world rooted in self-determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice.
Donate: Make a donation through TGIJP’s website to support their ongoing organizing work!
Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)
About: WRAP was created to expose and eliminate the root causes of civil and human rights abuses of people experiencing poverty and homelessness in our communities. They aim to unite local social justice organizations into a movement that is inclusive and shares power with all members of the community, hold the federal government responsible for restoring affordable housing funding and protecting poor and homeless people’s rights, develop effective and socially just solutions to all barriers that prevent the ending of homelessness, and ensure the policies and priorities of local, state and federal governments are grounded in the common truths of poor and homeless people. As a regional organization, WRAP has the power of collective mobilization, which incorporates local issues into an inclusive framework. All of their efforts are grounded in the experiences of those living in poverty and or working to address homelessness.
Support: WRAP is always looking for support with street outreach, fundraising, research, IT Support, setting up public speaking and art events, and media. Call 415.621.2533 to volunteer! Monetary donations are also very much appreciated!
Youth Spirit Artworks
About: Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) is an interfaith “green” art jobs and job training program located in Berkeley, California. Founded in 2007, YSA is a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering homeless and low-income San Francisco Bay Area young people, ages 16-25. YSA’s mission is to use art jobs and jobs training to empower and transform the lives of youth, giving young people the skills, experience, and self-confidence needed to meet their full potential. YSA is also the publisher of Street Spirit!
Needs: You can support the ongoing work of Youth Spirit Artworks by donating online at this link: youthspiritartworks.org/donate
Checks can be sent to: 1740 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley CA 94703
Mutual aid is the unpaid, intentional, reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit of all. It is people in a community taking care of each other. It requires one to build relationships and solidarity with those they seek to support. By giving directly to people in need with no strings attached, we build relationships and dismantle the assumption that poverty is the fault of the poor.
Mutual aid can take many forms. Below is a list of ways you can give directly to your homeless neighbors. It ranges from delivering supplies to homeless encampments, to donating to GoFundMe campaigns for individuals, to keeping cash and other useful supplies in your backpack for people you encounter on the street.
Donation campaigns for individuals in need:
Support Couper: San Francisco Street Medic
Help raise funds for unhoused San Francisco residents who need medical and hygiene supplies. Couper is an unhoused SF resident who is known to many as the Street Medic. As a disabled firefigher, she uses her skills to help unhoused folks throughout the city. All donations will go directly to Couper so she can buy medical supplies, hygiene products and basic necessities for the people she interacts with and helps on a daily basis.
TJ Johnston is a tireless San Francisco journalist who reports on poverty and homelessness. He is also the assistant editor of the Street Sheet, San Francisco’s street newspaper. His influential reporting is informed in part by his own experience as a homeless person in San Francisco.
TJ lost his bed at a local shelter when COVID-19 hit. He has since been able to find housing, but needs just a little help to get through the year with a stable place to stay. His community is fundraising to help him pay rent through the end of this year.
Contribute online here: bit.ly/housing-tj
About: Markaya Spikes is a single mother who is crowdsourcing birthday presents for her 10 year old daughter, Za’Moria. Spikes writes:
“Za’Moria is a brilliant 10 year old who has faced a lot of difficult struggles, the main one was being unhoused in one of Oakland largest encampments for seven years. But she showed herself to be truly resilient to it all by keeping up her happy helpful spirit. In June, we finally obtained stable housing which is an awesome gift because Za’Moria will be able to spend her holidays and birthday, which is December 30th, in her new home.”
Support them by purchasing items off their Amazon wishlist: bit.ly/za-moria
About: Derrick Soo is an uhoused activist who is planning to run in the Oakland Mayoral race in 2022. He is raising money to support his encampment community, the 77th Ave Rangers, in various ways.
The 77th Avenue Rangers is one out of 40 encampment communities in the City of Oakland that receives sanitation support and services from the city. The Rangers Community has the distinction of being Oakland’s only “Independent” self-governed site, says lead organizer Derrick Soo. Soo’s advocacy coupled with COVID interventions has reduced the Rangers Community from a Pre-COVID population of 32 down to a current population of 12.
On the encampment’s GoFundMe page, he is currently raising money to buy a Conestoga Hut Shelter, which will provide greater protection from the winter cold than store-bought tents. bit.ly/solar-huts
Additionally, they are putting together a winter wish-list, which can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sooderricks/
Soo notes that the Rangers Community receives shower and laundry services, paid for by the City of Oakland, every Sunday from 2pm-6pm. The services are open to the public and free for any person in need.