Mission district LGBTQ homeless shelter back post-COVID

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 16, 2024
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Jazzie's Place, a shelter for unhoused LGBTQ adults, is now operating at full capacity in the city's Mission neighborhood. Photo: John Ferrannini
Jazzie's Place, a shelter for unhoused LGBTQ adults, is now operating at full capacity in the city's Mission neighborhood. Photo: John Ferrannini

A homeless shelter for LGBTQ adults in San Francisco is at its full capacity of beds after having been shuttered during the COVID pandemic.

Jazzie's Place is located at 1050 South Van Ness Avenue in the Mission neighborhood and overseen by Dolores Street Community Services. According to Manuel Pina, a straight ally who is director of housing and shelter programs for DSCS, it reopened June 6, 2022 and has slowly increased the number of beds from eight, reaching the full, pre-COVID capacity of 24 in December 2023.

It had started at a lower capacity, Pina stated in an email to the Bay Area Reporter, in order to comply with San Francisco Department of Public Health COVID protocols.

"Operations are going well, we have currently two beds available at Jazzie's because of some recent transfers/move-outs (in the female-identified-only section), currently working with our referral partners to fill out those beds," Pina stated.

"Jazzie's has three sections: female-identified, male-identified and gender-nonconforming/nonbinary," he added.

The basic reservation to stay at Jazzie's is 90 days, Pina said, but people can keep extending.

"There's no limit as long as the criteria is being met, people can keep extending," Pina said.

A Jazzie's program manager did not return a request to speak with a shelter resident.

Jazzie's was created "primarily to provide safe emergency shelter for folks of the LGBTQ+ collective, experiencing chronic homelessness and abuse/discrimination," Pina stated. It had closed July 4, 2020 when DSCS began to operate a shelter-in-place hotel, as the B.A.R. previously reported. At that time, some 15 people were moved to the hotel; the identity of the hotel was not disclosed.

The hotel rooms were funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through September 2021, and the city planned to stop using the hotel by January 21, 2022.

When asked about the six-month gap, Pina told the B.A.R., "We opened the shelter only when we got authorization from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Services and when DPH had clear protocols to reopen congregate shelters."

"This was a process that lasted probably a whole year in the city," he added. DPH declined a request for comment, referring the paper to HSH, which the B.A.R. also contacted.

"The city along with our partner, Dolores Street Community Services, is committed to the capabilities and cultural capacity of Jazzie's Place in our Homelessness Response System," an HSH spokesperson stated via email. "These important services are critical to the queer and trans community we serve.

"Creating a safe space is a priority and Jazzie's Place reopened following the pandemic in June 2022 with 14 beds in accordance with DPH guidelines," the spokesperson continued. "Dolores Shelter Program reinflated their shelter beds to pre-COVID capacity starting in November 2023. They are currently operating Jazzie's with a capacity of 24 beds to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless adults seeking shelter beds."

Referral partners to DSCS include the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, El/La Para TransLatinas, and the TGIJP Black Trans Cultural Center. Mission Neighborhood Resource Center also still refers people, though not at the same rate as prior to the pandemic, Pina stated.

Sofía S. Ríos Dorantes, deputy director of El/La Para TransLatinas, stated to the B.A.R. that "Jazzie's Place has reopened, and we are excited to be their referral partner."

"Referrals are going well and we are always looking to connect individuals in need with the resources and support that Jazzie's Place provides," she stated. "People interested in making a referral or finding out more information can inquire directly with Jazzie's Place through their website."

The LGBT center and TGIJP Black Trans Cultural Center did not return messages seeking comment.

People who are unhoused and in need of shelter "can go directly to any of our referral partners and ask for shelter and they will refer them to us," Pina stated.

Jazzie's Place is one component of DSCS' broader Dolores Shelter program, and is housed in the same location. For 42 years the nonprofit has offered "overnight shelter, hot meals, and support services to adults experiencing homelessness," according to DSCS' website.

"Case management services are offered onsite to support guests with finding additional support and resources related to housing, benefits, and physical and mental health," the website continues, referring to the Dolores shelter program.

The shelter beds geared toward the general public open daily from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. According to the nonprofit, it accepts walk-up guests "on a first-come, first-served basis. Shelter doors open at 6 p.m. and guests can begin lining up no sooner than 5:30 p.m."

The LGBTQ-focused shelter is named in honor of the late Jazzie Collins, a transgender woman who advocated for housing, seniors, and other issues and died in 2013. It first opened in 2015.

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