We recently accomplished a major milestone that will help us to accomplish our goal of providing all Bay Area shelters with WiFi access by 2024. On October 5, 2020, we completed installation of a WiFi network at the Mission Hotel — San Francisco’s largest Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotel. Through incremental funding and partnerships, hundreds of at-risk residents now have free internet access, making it possible to easily communicate with friends and family, utilize crucial resources, and develop technological and vocational skills.
For this project, we partnered with the City of San Francisco’s Digital Equity team to deliver 1GB fiber/ISP capability at no cost to the building. Cisco, which is a new partner of ShelterTech’s, generously donated equipment. Installation was provided by PCS-SF, a San Francisco-based IT support and services company. Funding for this project was partially provided by a grant from PagerDuty, Inc. a provider of global digital management solutions also based in San Francisco.
The Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC), a local nonprofit dedicated to low-income tenant’s rights and preserving and expanding San Francisco’s low-cost housing stock, has overseen the location’s operations since 1999 through the SRO/Master Lease Program.
“We are truly grateful to Sheltertech for their partnership with THC and for their commitment to making WiFi accessible to tenants in our largest supportive housing site, the Mission Hotel. Having access to the internet is vital for individuals to stay connected, educated, and able to explore resources, especially during this health crisis that has impacted many of our tenants who suffer from mental health or substance use dependency,” Janet Aguilar, Director of Support Services at THC, said.
Originally constructed in 1907, the Mission Hotel stands at 520 South Van Ness Ave., in the hub of the historical Mission District, which is characterized by both its largely Latino and Chicano residents and artistic scene. Since the late nineties, this area has struggled with gentrification, and, as a result, the displacement of native residents, comprising mostly Latino American middle-class families. Despite these trends, this 240-room location remains an integral part of the community by providing shelter to people facing homelessness or housing insecurity.
“We are delighted to work with THC to help bridge the digital divide for their residents. Thanks to all of our partners for helping make this project possible,” said Bill Soward, Executive Director at ShelterTech.
At ShelterTech, we are inspired every day by the belief that digital equity and connectivity is a right, not a privilege, providing people in need with a pathway to build a brighter future. Phase 1 of our program to provide all Bay area shelters internet access by 2024 is already underway and currently serves 18 shelters and over 4,000 residents per year.
“There is no doubt that the WiFi services at the Mission Hotel will be an essential tool that will enable tenants to learn, stay current with information, and access online support groups and current events,” Janet Aguilar said.
Founded in 2016 and based in San Francisco, ShelterTech’s all-volunteer tech team has been on the front lines helping to bridge the digital divide for over 9,000 people experiencing homelessness and thousands more who are housing insecure. Working in close collaboration with the City of San Francisco, frontline services organizations, local corporations, and community representatives, ShelterTech is committed to delivering solutions built by the community, for the community. ShelterTech has two primary programs: SF ServiceGuide, an online directory of all San Francisco Shelters and Services and ShelterConnect, free WiFi for shelters.