Seeking a Shelter Bed in San Francisco? Here’s How You Can Get on the City’s Waitlist.

After a three-year suspension prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter reservation waitlist for single adults has been reactivated as of July 5, but with changes, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) announced earlier this month.

People wanting to refer themselves to a 90-day shelter reservation may call the Homeless Outreach Team at (628) 652-8000 to speak to a live 311 agent, HSH communications director Emily Cohen told the Homelessness Oversight Commision on July 6.

 “We’re going in through the homeless response system, but then are accessing customer service through a partnership with 311,” she told the panel. “It is answered by a person. You’re not just leaving a message.”

There’s also an online portal to sign onto the waitlist at TINYURL.COM/AdultShelterSF. The website instructs people to enter their name, birth date and contact information, as well as their preference for a bed in the male or female section of the shelter.

The person registering for the waitlist is assigned a unique identification number, consisting of their birthdate and initials. The HSH website used the late pop star Michael Jackson as an example: His hypothetical waitlist ID would be 08291958MJ.

“The intent is that someone could use the phone or computer at resource centers, libraries, etc.,” Cohen said in a text to Street Sheet. “Case managers can put someone on the waitlist as well.” 

After registration, it may take 24 hours for the person’s identifier to show up on the screen, according to the HSH website.

Once a reservation is available, the shelter seeker is notified by text or phone call and instructed to contact HSH. A notation on the waitlist also appears next to their identifier reading, “Please call 628-652-8000 option 4 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on business days (Monday – Friday, excluding holidays).”

The shelters accepting reservations through the waitlist are MSC South, Next Door and The Sanctuary, three of the city’s largest shelters.   

Commissioner Christin Evans asked HSH if other shelters might participate in the program. 

“We do plan to bring in all the shelters online, including the navigation centers,” HSH director Shirleen McSpadden said. Deputy director of programs Dee Rosado-Chan added that HSH can provide more information in the next commission meeting.

The Homelessness Oversight Commission meets at City Hall on the first Thursday of each month.
An FAQ sheet on the shelter reservation waitlist can be found at