DISH Midyear Update July 2012

Greetings from Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing!

We know some of you will have already received this update in the mail, and we apologize for any annoyance, but we wanted to make sure we were able to reach everyone on our e-mail list as well, many of whom will not have received the hard copy in the mail. We are wrapping up another year and looking forward to celebrating our 6th anniversary this fall! Save the date for our next big party at Gallery 4N5 in the South of Market on September 6th. Last year we had a fantastic time seeing so many of the DISH supporters. Stay tuned for further details about how to sponsor and buy tickets, and we hope to see all of you again this year.

We are keeping tabs on how we are contributing to ending homelessness by counting how many nights our housing units have been rented since we started our operations in 2006. As of this month we are honored that we have provided more than 899,000 opportunities for our tenants to close their door, turn down the sheets, hit the lights, and lay down to sleep in their own home after years on the streets. Each time we give a new resident a key to their unit we are inspired by their journey to success and the hope they bring for their future. Sometimes the work we do is challenging, but being part of the solution for getting folks back on their feet makes each tough day worth it. Read on for the big news of the last few busy months at DISH.

Our tenants: DISH hosted the second Annual DISH-wide Tenant Appreciation Party in May. We invited everyone from our six sites and spent the afternoon kicking back and having fun. Thanks to your support, we were able to provide a great meal, rent a photo booth, and celebrate carnival style with popcorn, cotton candy, games and even a couple of clowns from Clown Zero. We raffled off terrific gifts including the grand prize of a flat screen TV! Tenants also shared their talents with an “Open Mic” program as well as an art show. For many of our tenants, being able to socialize and be celebrated is a big accomplishment after their years of isolation on the streets. Building community is a high priority for us as we work to help build new positive connections. In the words of one of our tenants: “The party was just fantastic. It’s so nice to see your neighbors in a new place and having fun.” We look forward to maintaining this annual tradition, and making it better each year. We have included the article from the June issue of The Central City Extra covering the event.

Each year we survey our tenants about our work, and this year we heard back from 84% of our tenants who overwhelmingly (93%) responded with overall satisfaction with our services. One tenant at the Windsor shared with us:

“In reality, being blind I’m learning to navigate the hotel, and I’m gaining confidence on my feet. Before, on the street, you don’t know where things are. My emotional appearance is very different: my depression was bad before, but it’s now under control. I feel stronger here at the Windsor.” The tenant went on to say “I feel tranquil in my room, happier, more colorful, brilliant.”

This is what our work is all about—bringing a better quality of life to folks who have struggled in the past.

Each year we also survey our tenants about our work, and this year we heard back from 84% of our tenants who overwhelmingly (93%) responded with overall satisfaction with our services . DISH works hard to honor our service commitments to ensure tenants have a high quality of life in our buildings.

DISH is proud of our high rates of housing stability and low eviction rates across our sites: 83% of our tenants have remained successfully housed for at least one year and the rate of eviction at our sites is 2%. While most of our tenants enjoy DISH’s permanent housing for much longer than one year, retaining the first year of housing after being homeless is a well-documented challenge that can be hard to achieve.  Our housing also supports lower utilization of expensive health care resources. For example at the Star Hotel in the Mission there have been drastic reductions in health care costs. In one study, the annual mean of healthcare expenditures per person dropped nearly $30,000 after moving into the Star.

 Our buildings: DISH made great progress this year in upgrading our facilities thanks to the hard work of our staff and the investments of the Department of Public Health and our building owners. Much of our focus this past year has been on the 92 unit Windsor Hotel, where we completed a major elevator modernization project and are making steady progress on a plumbing upgrade for the building. We have “wish lists” of upgrades at each of our sites, but are currently targeting our efforts this year on the Windsor. Our long-term plan for the Windsor includes improving the kitchen and front desk area, and replacing the main flooring and improving the community room to promote greater tenant participation in community services and activities. If you are interested in helping us make these dreams a reality, please contact Doug Gary for more information.

As another way to leverage our resources, we continue to partner with dedicated and generous corporate volunteer groups to do large scale painting and cleaning projects.  Google recently sent us a crew to do a spring clean-up at the Pacific Bay Inn and as well as a painting project at the Empress, and the good people of Schwab volunteered with us for the third year in a row as part of Schwab Volunteer Week. These partnerships are critical for us to keep our buildings safe and inviting homes for our tenants, and also to remind our tenants that the larger community cares about their well-being. Get in touch with John Mark Johnson at 776-3474 ext. 107 if you are interested in volunteering at DISH!

Our team: The DISH staff continues to provide excellent service around the clock.  This year, we partnered with Solutions SF to ease our on-call coverage needs and this has resulted in lower costs for DISH as well as greater security at our sites. DISH is also continuing to expand our work in providing training and technical assistance. We are working with our community partners in the Bay Area and LA County conducting workshops on topics ranging from dealing with bed bugs to promoting housing stability for tenants with mental health issues. We are eager to expand our training capacity and look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Corporation for Supportive Housing to assist with building the capacity of supportive housing providers around the state.

 Our funding: DISH had a wild ride in the City budget process again this year, but we were fortunate to successfully advocate for our funding to remain intact for the upcoming fiscal year. We realize our tenants have many needs to realize their life goals and dreams, so we are expanding our fundraising efforts to diversify and increase our funding sources this year to build on what DPH currently provides.

While we are incredibly grateful for our successes and the support we receive from the Department of Public Health, we need you so we can do more! Your gift (which is tax-deductible!) is very important to us, whether $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or whatever! With your help, we can continue to work to end homelessness, one tenant at a time, one permanent housing unit at a time. Please consider making a donation online today by just clicking here and choosing Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing from the list of projects. For other ideas on how to get involved, including volunteering, visit

Thanks for helping end homelessness in San Francisco!

With gratitude,

Lauren Hall and Doug Gary, Directors

Published on July 11, 2012