Research Report Evaluation of Tipping Point Community’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative
Final Report
Samantha Batko, Pear Moraras, Lynden Bond, Kaela Girod, Mikaela Tajo, Brendan Chen, Maureen Sarver
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In May 2017, Tipping Point Community announced a $100 million initiative to halve chronic homelessness in San Francisco in five years. Tipping Point’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative (CHI) is the largest private investment to address homelessness in the city’s history. Tipping Point engaged the Urban Institute to evaluate CHI’s implementation and outcomes. The evaluation’s primary goal is to understand CHI’s overall success in helping San Francisco halve chronic homelessness and make long-term, systemic improvements that support the city’s most vulnerable residents.

As CHI came to an end in June 2022, this final report documents the implementation of CHI and identifies key areas of successes and lessons learned based on evaluation activities conducted between fall 2018 and fall 2023. This report also highlights the outcomes of specific strategies and programs implemented as part of CHI.

Key Takeaways

  • Tipping Point successfully spent $100 million implementing more than 30 distinct programs and activities as part of CHI. The greatest share of investments was spent on creating housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • From 2017 to 2022, the City and nonprofit partners across San Francisco placed 7,767 people who were experiencing chronic homelessness into housing. While this exceeded initial projections for the number of placements needed to halve chronic homelessness, data suggest that Tipping Point and partners did not meet their goal by the end of 2022.
  • Interview respondents identified key successes for CHI, including:
    • increasing the number of housing placements for people experiencing chronic homelessness;
    • identifying proof points for innovative approaches that became new tools to re-house people;
    • building capacity in government and nonprofit agencies; and
    • elevating the voices of people with lived experiences of homelessness.
  • CHI faced and adapted to many challenges throughout implementation, including those related to leadership changes within Tipping Point and the City government as well as process- and structure-related challenges within the homelessness response system. Compounding these challenges were the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent lack of affordable housing in San Francisco.

Based on the evaluation findings, we highlight lessons regarding the role of philanthropy in addressing complex social challenges as well as lessons for communities working to end homelessness. These include the need for philanthropic organizations to take risks to build evidence for innovative strategies and maximize the impact of flexible partners and the importance of understanding and addressing the inflow of people into homelessness. Moving forward, interview respondents felt that San Francisco must focus on addressing the drivers and root causes of homelessness, specifically broader preservation and development of affordable housing.

Other reports from Urban’s evaluation of CHI are available on the project page.

Research Areas Nonprofits and philanthropy Housing Housing finance Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Tags Homelessness Foundations and philanthropy Housing affordability Nonprofit data and statistics
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Research Methods Qualitative data analysis Quantitative data analysis
States California
Cities San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA
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