City of San Francisco logoToday City of San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced the appointment of Shireen McSpadden as the new Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH). McSpadden currently serves as the Executive Director of the Department of Disability and Aging Services, which serves over 70,000 seniors, adults with disabilities, caregivers and veterans every year. She will start the new position on May 1st.

Joining McSpadden in HSH leadership will be Noelle Simmons, currently a Deputy Director at the Human Services Agency, and Cynthia Nagendra, currently the Executive Director at the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. Simmons, who has led the Economic Support and Self-Sufficiency Division at the Human Services Agency for the last 6 years, will serve as the Chief Deputy at HSH. Nagendra, a nationally recognized expert on homelessness, will lead long-range planning efforts for the Department.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is focused on moving people permanently out of homelessness through strategies that stabilize people’s lives through the City’s housing and support services, and building a system that ends a person’s homelessness before it becomes chronic. This includes implementing the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan, which will deliver on the City’s commitment to dramatically expand housing options—short, medium and long term—for those experiencing homelessness, as well as safely expand the shelter system.

“I’m excited to appoint Shireen to this role, especially in this critical moment in our city’s history as we emerge from this pandemic,” said Mayor Breed. “For years, Shireen has led innovative and effective efforts to care for some of our most vulnerable residents, and over the past year she has been one of the leaders keeping our residents safe, healthy, and housed during this pandemic. Her experience and connection to communities will help the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing meet its goals of serving our most vulnerable residents, including the critical work of delivering on the promise of our Homeless Recovery Plan.”

“It’s been an honor to lead the Department of Disability and Aging Services and I am deeply appreciative of the work and support of staff, colleagues, organizations and people with disabilities and seniors themselves,” said McSpadden. “Our response to homelessness is one of the most important, pressing and complex issues facing this City as we emerge from this pandemic, and I’m excited to join the Department of Housing and Supportive Housing to continue the work to serve some of our City’s most vulnerable residents. I’m grateful to Mayor Breed for the opportunity to lead this Department, and I’m excited for continuing partnerships—and new ones—as we tackle homelessness together.”

At the Department of Disability and Aging Services, McSpadden has led efforts focused on helping people engage and connect in their communities, meet basic needs through resources like home-delivered meals and home care programs, and support individuals experiencing crisis who need more intensive intervention. This includes a number of initiatives that will serve as important experience for meeting the mission of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

These include:

  • Facilitating successful transitions out of Laguna Honda and into stable housing in the community for many formerly homeless people with chronic health conditions. Structured on the principles of person-centered care planning, this effort represents a deep and collaborative partnership with the Department of Public Health and many non-profit organizations, including Institute on Aging and Brilliant Corners.
  • Administering rental subsidy programs that support seniors and adults with disabilities to maintain their housing. This includes a program for housed people unable to continue affording their rent and unable to find an affordable alternative, as well as a scattered site housing program that secures housing units, augments costs, and provides housing retention support to people with higher needs.
  • Running the In-Home Supportive Services program that provides help at home to low-income people with disabilities. In San Francisco, this includes a unique partnership with the non-profit Homebridge for people unable to manage their home care. Homebridge supports hundreds of people living in supportive housing, many of whom face behavioral health challenges and need help with basic daily tasks, to maintain their housing.
  • Piloting a homelessness prevention program through Adult Protective Services program that seeks to promote deeper collaboration with the homelessness continuum of care to support older and disabled people at risk of becoming homeless due to abuse and/or self-neglect
  • Operating a special care team created during the COVID-19 response to assist with the transition and stabilization of homeless and vulnerable individuals placed in Shelter-in-Place hotels.

“Shireen McSpadden has a strong commitment to and deep understanding of the senior and disability communities, who comprise the majority of unhoused people in San Francisco. Considering this fact, along with Shireen’s track record of collaborating effectively, dreaming big, and listening to community, Shireen is an ideal person to take over the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing,” said Jessica Lehman, Executive Director of Senior Disability Action Network.

“Shireen McSpadden’s experience in the field of aging is exactly what is needed in the Department of Homelessness as we see more seniors becoming homeless. She understands the needs of vulnerable people and has the compassion combined with administrative skill to bring everyone together to make change happen,” said Cathy Davis, Executive Director of Bayview Senior Services.

McSpadden has over 30 years’ experience providing services to people with disabilities and seniors, in both the nonprofit and public sectors. In 2020, Shireen was recognized for her anti-ageism work by Time Magazine, named as one of 16 people and groups fighting for a more equitable America. She serves on several local boards and committees and currently co-chairs both the San Francisco Long Term Care Coordinating Council and the San Francisco Palliative Care Work Group. She currently serves as president of the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging. As a member of Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Aging Stakeholder Committee, Shireen helped shape California’s Master Plan for Aging. She is also an executive board member, representing California, for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Ms. McSpadden holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Administration.

Noelle Simmons has been a Deputy Director at the San Francisco Human Services Agency since 2007. In this capacity, she oversees the administration of public benefits programs serving low-income families and individuals, including CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medicaid, General Assistance and Workforce Development Services, and provides leadership to Families Rising, a two-generation collective impact initiative that seeks to disrupt the intergenerational transfer of poverty. Simmons has extensive experience in housing and homeless services, legislative analysis and advocacy, and strategic planning. She previously served as the Budget Director for the City and County of San Francisco and holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from UC Berkeley.

Cynthia Nagendra brings 20 years of experience in designing homeless response systems and effectuating systems change at different levels of government with the goal of ending homelessness and advancing housing justice. She has focused her career on homelessness policy, strategic planning, advocacy, cross-sector partnerships, and data-driven and equitable program design in San Francisco and over 40 communities across the country. She is the founding Executive Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at UCSF, where she has built an organization of experts to provide research and policy recommendations to strengthen the public sector’s response to the most critical issues facing unhoused people. She previously served as the Director of the Center for Capacity Building at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, where she developed a national best practices curriculum and partnered with federal policy makers. She began her career providing direct services to people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco as a Program Manager at St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin. She graduated from law school in New York City, where she worked on immigration, criminal justice, and women’s rights issues.