San Francisco non-profit offers solution to region's homeless crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Yes, it's a problem. One we drive by, step around, and try to ignore. A problem personified, today, by Dale Harris and his dog, Bruiser.

Dale has a dream. "I'd be living in a home somewhere."

With luck, it might be a place like the Minna Lee on 6th.

It's not an escape from the Tenderloin, but certainly a perch above it.

The rooms are basic, but for people coming from San Francisco streets, this environment can transform lives.

"They looked at you like you were disposable. Trash," said resident Robert Wynder, a veteran.

"You can't be civilized socially. You feel terrible about yourself," Natalie Notaro told us.

Both live here in permanent housing, subsidized by the city.

The Minna Lee is one of eight leased hotels in buildings in San Francisco, and home to almost 600 formerly homeless tenants, who pay a third of their incomes for rent.

RELATED: New study shows Bay Area homeless problem growing unchecked

"The science is in. Supportive housing works. It is cheaper than jail and emergency rooms, and people do well with it," said Doug Gary, co-director of the non-profit, Delivering Innovation in Supporting Housing.

With 28,000 homeless in the region, people are looking for ideas.

Ultimately, he says, it comes down to finding and making space.

"We all wish we had a magic wand to make more housing happen."

The problem remains as complex as its victims. Natalie worked as a dental technician, a retail manager, was 15 credits short of a masters degree, and drugs still dragged her to the streets.

"People have to want to get off the street. Some people don't want to."

"Now, you can't look at me and know I was ever homeless," said Robert Wynder.

To solve a problem, find a model. Then duplicate it.

Natalie leaned out of her door.

"I had a drug problem but now I am clean. So happy to be inside you don't even know," she said.

Check out more stories about Building a Better Bay Area.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.