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A School Created A Homeless Shelter In The Gym And It Paid Off In The Classroom

The idea of optimizing school district property for evening and weekend use isn’t new, but Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School (BVHM, for short) in San Francisco appears to be the first modern public elementary school to have hosted a long-term, overnight family shelter.

Some objected: Shelter should not be the responsibility of a school, they argued.

And yet, “We were the folks that were willing to do it,” said Nick Chandler, the BVHM community school coordinator.

His school serves approximately 600 students in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, three blocks from the exclusive Adda Clevenger School and across the street from a restaurant serving a $16 roasted octopus appetizer. Just under 60 percent of the students are English language learners, and just over 60 percent have been deemed socioeconomically disadvantaged, though that’s an undercount according to the school’s staff who say many of their families are also undocumented or under-documented.

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