Homeless in SF can reserve beds with new computer system

The Associated Press
Friday October 04, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — A computerized system that will allow homeless people in San Francisco to reserve beds was launched Wednesday. 

Homeless people can checking in daily at five locations with computers linked to the new software and reserve beds at two of the city’s 11 shelters by entering their names and Social Security numbers into the system. 

Homeless advocates warn that the request for personal information will discourage people, especially illegal immigrants, from seeking help. 

But city officials believe the new system will enable San Francisco, for the first time, to see exactly how many people asked for which services and whether they received them. 

The city controller and the civil grand jury reported separately in May that San Francisco had no idea exactly how many people were homeless or how much was spent on services. The estimates range from 8,000 to 15,000 homeless and very poor people who rely on homeless services, and $104 million to $200 million spent on services annually. 

Cities in about 30 states have already installed the system, including San Diego and New York City.