San francisco’s homeless problem
Back in 2013, I made a Facebook post complaining about how the homeless community of San Francisco were making it an undesirable place to want to live.
For context, many news outlets have since reported on the uninhabitable conditions of San Francisco since then, as an NBC investigation reports that conditions are comparable “one of the worlds filthiest slums.”
While not necessarily wrong, my post showed my lack of care for the homeless community. Embarrassed by how many people were outraged by my post, I decided take a deeper dive into understanding homelessness and see what I was missing. As I learned more, I began to develop a soft spot for their struggles and the unthinkable journey they have to embark on getting back on their feet. .
My disgust for the homeless community moved to contempt for the government and non-profits in the space as I learned how ineffective their programs are. And in typical Greg Gopman fashion, I jumped into a foreign space and started building things that I thought could change things.
Below you can see a list of the projects I’ve worked on to help the homeless. I strongly believe the key to ending homelessness lies in affordable housing and thus, much of my efforts has moved towards that space culminating in my magnum opus, CommuniShip.
Homeless Solutions launched in San francisco
I self-organized, promoted, and funded a 500+ person town hall to promote new solutions to homelessness that the city can start working on. At the town hall I flew in the top innovators in the homeless services space from around the US and had them educate our community on different solutions that we could integrate into San Francisco. I also had local politicians host a fireside chat with the audience and promoted some California solutions to San Francisco which needed some more attention and support, such as Downtown Streets Team.
To date it is the largest public event ever held in the city to discuss homelessness and solutions with the community.
DST is one of my favorite workforce empowerment programs that I found in the course of my research. I’ve been working with them since 2014 and in 2016, after two years of lobbying I was finally able to help them get the introductions and political capital needed to bring their homeless street cleaning services to San Francisco. They are now considered to be one of the best programs to enter the city in decades even though the city refused to let them in for years because of an outdated non-profit that was worried DST would steal their funding.
ShelterTech brings free WiFi and smart phones to homeless shelters and low income communities. The idea came when a homeless man, Darcel Jackson, approached me at the Town Hall and explained his frustrations with the shelter system. Soon after I worked a partnership with Monkey Brains, our local ISP, to bring WiFi to low-income properties. From humble beginnings, the ShelterTech team has grown to almost 40 people and now offers case management, housing, and human services to the community.
After the Homeless Town Hall I created a community run organization called A Better San Francisco, which would host weekly meetings at my house for our group of 50% homeless and 50% non-homeless individuals. Together we worked mostly on Community Transition Centers, a project we working on for 3 months to build temporary workforce housing on unused land.
Alternative Housing Concepts
CommuniShip turns old cruiseships into luxury affordable housing complexes. The ships are docked permanently at the port of a city and renovated to for full-time living. It essentially creates 1,000 new affordable housing units in a city along with a list of luxury amenities that have never been offered to affordable housing residents. It’s a project I’ve been working on for almost 3 years now and we’re looking to launch in 2018/2019.
Community Transition Centers — A new that centralizes the cities homeless services into one location, along with temporary housing, life-coaching, and workforce empowerment programs. Everything is built on temporary land and can be moved in/out within 14 days.
We modeled Transition Centers after insights I gained from sleeping in Seattle’s Camp Unity Eastside homeless encampment. And while Transition Centers never found a home in San Francisco, a lot of the concepts we laid out were later used by San Francisco’s Navigation Centers homeless solution.
Regional Retirement Centers — A new take on Supportive Housing, where cities work together to make a regional solution that would cut costs by 75% and help an exponential amount of people. Currently municipalities only work within their municipalities.
Featured Blog Posts
Op-ed I wrote for the SF Chronicle that galvanized the city to come together for the homeless Town Hall.
My call for a truce with the media after TechCrunch, 3 years after my initial Facebook post, wrote a hit-piece that got me fired from Twitter.
My Magnum Opus on everything I’ve learned on homelessness and what I believe the keys to ending homelessness in the future will look like.