Personalized Family-Centered Solutions to Homelessness

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022

Support doesn’t end when you leave Raphael House, a long-term family shelter with a legacy of breaking barriers in Lower Nob Hill. Founded in 1971, Raphael House was among the first to keep families experiencing homelessness together instead of splitting them apart, a principle that remains central to their mission today.

“We develop personal relationships with families and see ourselves as a long-view organization. Families have access to all the services that they receive in the shelter long after they move out,” says Marc Slater, executive director of Raphael House.

As Slater says, “Raphael House is more than just a shelter, it’s a continuum of support.”

It’s those strong relationships built in trust that compelled Janice, who first came to Raphael House over 10 years ago, to call when she found herself once again facing housing instability. Through their growing Financial Assistance for Family Stability service, Raphael House provided a security deposit and first month’s rent to move Janice and her family into a safe, affordable home.

Privately funded, Raphael House is able to determine how best to help each family, bypassing systemic barriers to services. Some families require a few months of financial aid to pay rent while others have more substantial needs. “Our private funding model gives us flexibility to pivot quickly and to create the best solutions for each individual family,” notes Slater.

Challenges are par for the course in this line of work, however, as rising inflation and a lack of affordable housing options are contributing to longer stays in shelters and increased financial needs.

“Our families’ stays in our shelter are flexible and tailored to their individual needs. While they are with us, they don’t have to worry about where they’ll sleep or where their next meal is coming from,” explains Nora Niesen, director of development. “They can just focus on doing the work to move forward in their lives.”

One single mom staying at Raphael House recently enrolled in a Medical Assisting Certificate program knowing that she had the time to focus on her education and pursue her career goals. When basic needs are no longer of utmost concern, families are able to look ahead and plan beyond the next day.

“For many families, it’s the first opportunity they’ve had to consider a different future,” Slater shares.

And as parents work toward housing, career, and financial stability, children participate in after-school tutoring and academic enrichment programs designed to bolster confidence and ensure continued success in school.

Family by family, Raphael House is breaking the cycle of homelessness.


Raphael House

Donate now!
(415) 345-7266 
Director of Development: Nora Niesen


The mission of Raphael House is to help low-income families and families experiencing homelessness strengthen family bonds by achieving stable housing and financial independence.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

I came from a childhood that was really toxic and I wasn’t able to go live with a family member. At Raphael House, I started building relationships that were positive that I needed in my life. The part that gave me security was having our own room with our own key. It was a safe place for me to go to.

Janice, Client and former resident

Help Keep Families TOGETHER

The past few years have been challenging for Raphael House. The rising cost of doing business in the city, significant shifts in patterns of donations, and the simple fact that the shelter is over 100 years old and requires urgent repairs have created a budget deficit.

Raphael House needs to raise an additional $1.5 million this year to bridge the gap and to remain open.

Families experiencing homelessness rely on Raphael House’s personalized support to achieve and maintain housing and financial stability. Raphael House is 100% community supported, so increased support from donors like you is vital now more than ever.

Key Supporters

Tom Poser, Board Chair
Laura Larsen, Board Vice-Chair
Charlie McEachron, Board Treasurer
Heather Sager, Board Secretary
Yannis Dosios, Director
Laine Gomez, Director
Orlando Harris, Director
Amanda King, Director
Katie Kokenge, Director
Michele C. Lee, Director
Thomas B. Miller, Director
Karl Werwath, Director
Benificus Foundation
Cigna Healthcare
Bruce Colman and Margaret
Priscilla and Keith Geeslin
Barbara S. Hager
George H. Sandy Foundation
Solid Rock Foundation
Denise and Sigurd Strack