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Housing and Urban Health

Direct Access to Housing (DAH)


What is the Direct Access to Housing Program?

Established by the San Francisco Department of Public Health – Housing and Urban Health Section (SFDPH-HUH) in 1998, the Direct Access to Housing (DAH) is a permanent supportive housing program targeting low-income San Francisco residents who are homeless and have special needs. A “low threshold” program that accepts adults into permanent housing directly from the streets, shelters, hospitals and long-term care facilities, DAH strives to help tenants stabilize and improve their health outcomes despite co-occurring mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse problems, and/or complex medical conditions. In addition to being an effective way to end homelessness, this supportive housing model is also fiscally prudent as it leads to cost savings by reducing overutilization of emergency services.

Unique in its on-site provision of wrap-around support services, DAH currently houses over 1,700 formerly homeless people across 36 sites. DAH housing takes many forms including:

  • Master leased single room occupancy SRO) hotels. Master leasing allows SFDPH-HUH to engage in long-term leases with building owners who retain responsibility only for large capital improvements after lease-signing; building owners often renovate residential and common areas prior to lease signing as well. Master leasing has allowed SFDPH-HUH to bring large numbers of housing units online rapidly.

  • Units in new capital developments. An increasing number of DAH units fit this model. Most new capital units take the form of private apartments that afford tenants access to private bathrooms and cooking facilities. Depending on the site, the DAH program refers clients to some or all units in the buildings.

  • Set-aside DAH units in larger residential buildings owned by nonprofit providers. These units may be in renovated single room occupancy (SRO) buildings or newly developed sites.

  • Units in a licensed residential care facility. Only one DAH site fits into this category, and tenants share rooms at this facility.

Regardless of the setting, most tenants live independently in their own units, though they have access to on-site support services, property management, and 24-hour desk clerks if needed. For more information about supportive housing, visit our resources page.


Program Eligiblity

To find out if your client meets the eligibility criteria for Direct Access to Housing, please visit our Program Eligibility page.

NOTE: New DAH referral acceptance is currently suspended. Please see our DAH Community Announcement for more details.


Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information about program eligibility, referral and application processes, and case manager responsibilities, please check out our DAH Frequently Asked Questions.