A new transitional home for homeless pregnant women and new mothers opened last week in the Bayview.
Jelani House, which features 17 private rooms, is the first of its kind in San Francisco and will offer refuge for a portion of the homeless population that is particularly vulnerable.
The three-story home, formerly a convent, will offer cooked meals, case management meetings, parenting classes and therapy, among other services.
"It is a safe, nurturing space for women who are incredibly stressed because they are pregnant and they're on the streets or they have no place of their own," said Homeless Prenatal Program's (HPP) Executive Director Martha Ryan, whose organization runs Jelani House.
The average intended stay will be six months. HPP then steps in to help residents find permanent housing.
Ryan described the home as a "preventative" approach that ensures multiple generations of a family do not live on the streets.
Homeless women have a preterm birth rate twice as high as the national average, according to Ryan, which can cause a "lifetime" of problems for the newborn. The public cost can be high, too, if a baby then needs to be admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital.
"We can prevent this," Ryan said. "And that's what this program will do. It will help mothers deliver healthy babies, help them deliver term babies on time, and it will give them the support that they need to be able to move forward in life and stabilize their lives."
A project three years in the making, Jelani House will cost more than $1 million per year to run, Ryan said. It is funded by San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. While originally meant to open in October 2019, the project faced delays with renovations and city contracts.