San Francisco public assistance.

The government provides residents in San Francisco with access to public assistance to make it through a hardship situation. Some of the services can provide cash and financial assistance for paying bills and basic needs. Other resources are available to help families become self-sufficient over the medium to long term. This can include job training and career skills and well as health care and similar resources. Below are details on all of the San Francisco government assistance and public aid programs, most of which are offered by the Department of Human Services, which is also known as the Human Services Agency.

San Francisco County Adult Assistance Programs (CAAP) - This is a government run program for individuals or families without children or dependents. Financial support and other public assistance may be provided to the low income without kids as well. Options include:

  • Cash Assistance Linked to Medi-Cal – This is for seniors or disabled who can’t qualify for Cash Assistance Programs for Immigrants or SSI (Supplemental Security Income.)
  • Personal Assisted Employment Services – Clients who are currently looking for work can receive a cash stipend from the city/county of San Francisco.
  • Supplemental Security Income Pending – Those who have a disability or who may have been injured at work can receive a cash benefit from SSI.
  • General Assistance in San Francisco is offered for very low income adults.
  • Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants – For up to 8 months, immigrants can receive cash and/or health care from the county.

Job Training and Employment is offered to both the general public through the San Francisco Department of Human Services Career Link Centers as well as San Francisco's public assistance recipients. HSA runs some resources itself, and other job programs are offered in partnership with many local non-profit charities and community agencies. Groups work together to provide specific vocational services as well as support from the City's Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

A number of career centers operate around San Francisco, and the locations provide people who need jobs with resources, tools, and other aid. Services can help people find a job, from job listings to resume review and career counseling.





San Francisco also has resources for Specialized Career Services for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) participants as well as Welfare to Work recipients, including CalWORKs. Additional career services and counseling are available for these individuals.

Child Care subsidies are offered for WIA participants as well as people who receive CalWORKs. Financial assistance for child care expenses and costs are offered for people who are in job training, enrolled in school as part of a Welfare to Work plan, or who are now working.

San Francisco Human Services Agency partners with the state of California to fund a broad range of citywide child care assistance programs. HSA administers subsidized child care vouchers to qualified low income families served through Family and Children's Services, homeless programs, CalWORKs, and other subsidy and public assistance programs for low-income families. Many resources are offered by the Children's Council of San Francisco.

Families with children can get cash assistance and help from California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Children, which is maybe better known as CalWORKs. This low income program for individuals with children can provide financial support and cash grants for a variety of services to help people get back on their feet and into the workforce. A key is self-sufficiency, so an employment specialist and career counselor will work with clients to follow an individualized employment plan and help someone get a job. Even after you have successfully found a job to pay your bills and become self-sufficient, there may be follow-up services available to help you move to better-paying work as well as stay employed over the long term. The public assistance offered to San Francisco families is below.

  • Job assessment, preparation, employment counseling, and job training. Education and job search activities are offered too.
  • Cash assistance and financial support to pay bills and expenses for up to 60 months.
  • Payment for up to two months of back rent to prevent eviction from home or apartment. Also homeless assistance for move-in costs and security deposits of securing a new residence in San Francisco.
  • Financial assistance to non-citizen victims and refugee cash assistance. Money for victims of domestic violence, trafficking, and other serious crimes.
  • Food assistance, including food stamps and SNAP.
  • Medi-Cal and free public health care.
  • Subsidized child care grants and day care expenses.
  • Transportation allowance to get to a job or training.
  • Grants and financial assistance with books, uniforms or other support needed to participate in Welfare to Work activities.
  • Counseling for domestic violence issues, mental health, and substance abuse.





Refugee Cash Assistance Program – Public funds may be offered for adults without children who have official status as refugees. These qualified individuals may be able to receive public assistance through the San Francisco Refugee Cash Assistance Program.

CalFresh (Food Stamps) – This can help low income families and individuals buy their groceries and food.

Community centers offer Low-Cost Meals for Seniors. If you are a low-income senior and are struggling, you can visit a senior center for tasty meals. Some qualified seniors may also qualify for home delivered meals and food for either free or a minimal cost.

Free or low cost health care and savings on bills is available from Medi-Cal. This is San Francisco’s public health insurance program which provides health care coverage and insurance for low-income residents. Get help for persons with disabilities, families with children, seniors, undocumented immigrants, and pregnant women.

The government does offer Emergency Shelter for Single Adults in San Francisco. They have a computerized system that makes it easy and confidential for people to do this. Often those who were recently evicted or victims of domestic disputes use this public service. Then families can use the Project Homeless Connect resource, which can offer people free services and assistance programs all in the same day.

Transportation assistance can be offered from a service known as A Bus Ticket Home/ Homeward Bound Program. This can offer people who lack funds a way to get back home.

Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention Services - San Francisco funds a service known as the Family Eviction Program. This resource can provide low income families with eviction prevention services including funds to pay back rent and deposits, budgeting advice, case management, and other referrals to public aid.

The San Francisco Department of Human Services Homeless Prevention Services (HPRP) offers housing stabilization services, homeless prevention and financial assistance to low-income families’ individuals and families who are faced with eviction or losing housing.




Any cash and financial assistance provided to San Francisco families is short term in nature (1-6 months) and can also include security and utility deposits, moving cost assistance, rental subsidies, and more. Advice and case management offered may include free legal services, credit repair, and outreach.

Call the Department of Human Services (Human Services Agency) at (415) 557-5000 to apply for public assistance programs or to get additional information.


By Jon McNamara

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