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7 Favorite Charities: DISH, Providing Housing for SF's Homeless

A few weeks ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite local charities. Check out the seven you chose as your favorite in the city here, who will each be receiving a $700 gift from us.  We've also been profiling each of these on our website. Don't forget to vote for your favorite to be featured as a "Charity You Love" in our February issue!

Lauren Hall and Doug Gary put their property managing skills to work for the homeless in San Francisco. With the Tides Center, they founded "Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing," known as DISH. With 70 employees, Gary and Hall co-manage six buildings, taking hundreds of people off the streets and giving them a place to call home.  We talked to them about their work and how to get involved. http://dishsf.org/

How did DISH come to be?
Gary: Lauren and I co-founded the organization in the fall of 2006. We wanted to tailor property management services to the needs of the homeless, giving them direct access to housing programs.  It's basically tenants who have been homeless and are living with some combination of pretty serious mental health, physical health and substance use issues.

How does it work?

Gary:  The Health Department leases the building from private landlords and we manage the building. The tenants have a lease just like market rate housing, although the rent is subsidized.

What are some common misconceptions about the homeless in San Francisco?
Gary: The homeless are pretty amazing people, who, once they have—just like the rest of us— a key that opens a door to a home, are remarkably resilient and really able to reconnect to communities in amazing ways.

What has been most rewarding while working at DISH?
Hall:  For me, the ability to offer people a place to stay and get off the streets.  We don't change their lives but we give them a place to do it. I've seen a lot of folks move in who just haven't had a place to call home in such a long time.

How do people get involved aside from donating?
Gary: We're looking to provide tenants with gifts, especially for the holidays. We're also looking for help with our holiday events -  food, music or entertainment, or just hanging out with the tenants. 

Hall: A lot of our tenants are looking at ways to get reconnected with the community. I think some of the most concrete things people have been able to help with is get groups together and help our tenants paint the interiors of their buildings. Those kind of projects are really great.

To vote for DISH as one of your seven favorite charities, click here.