In our 50 year history, our Residential Shelter has been the heart of Raphael House’s personalized programs and services that support families experiencing homelessness.
Raphael House of San Francisco started in 1971 originally as an emergency shelter for women and mothers with children, located at Gough and McAllister Streets. In 1977, Ms. Ella Rigney and volunteers from the Holy Order of MANS transformed the former Golden Gate Hospital on Sutter Street to Raphael House. The renovated shelter opened on Thanksgiving week in 1977, becoming the first and largest family shelter in San Francisco.
Private Family Bedrooms
Raphael House has 31 private rooms, which vary in size to accommodate families of all sizes. Rooms can be furnished with full-sized beds, bunk beds, toddler beds, or cribs, plus a closet or wardrobe. Select rooms have private restrooms, and each floor has shared restrooms. There is a common laundry room and two kitchenettes for warming up food or storing personal food items.
Dining Room & Kitchen
Dedicated staff and volunteers provide families with a warm, family-style breakfast and dinner (plus a bagged lunch) each day in our kitchen and dining room. Our staff strives to create a home-like environment, with designated tables for each family, seasonal table centerpieces, and fresh flowers. Thanks to a generous grant in honor of former Board Chair Kate Smith and her father—long-time Raphael House volunteer Donald Fredrick MacDonald—we were able to renovate our kitchen in 2019, ensuring it remains at the heart of Raphael House for many years to come.
Father David & Elaine Lowell Children’s Library
Our library is a beautiful, inspiring room. The building was originally a hospital built in 1908, and the library was formerly the doctors lounge and chapel of the hospital. Staff and families use this space for case management check-ins, informational workshops, meetings, reading, and studying. Our library is named in honor of Fr. David’s 25 years of service as Executive Director, and his wife Elaine Lowell, who formed many strong community partnerships over the years.
Tutoring Club & Computer Lab
Tutoring services are offered to students in grades K-12 every week through both our Residential Shelter and Bridge Programs. Our Children’s Services Manager, interns, and volunteers work with each student to offer academic support, mentorship, and extracurricular activities to ensure they achieve and maintain success in school. The computer lab is available to children during tutoring hours and is open to Raphael House families for online housing searches, resume building, and computer skills classes.
Our Toddler Room enables Raphael House staff and volunteers to provide supportive services for kids aged 0-4. These include playing games, singing songs, and reading stories to help encourage healthy social skills and proper development for toddler-aged residents. The room is also open during the day for parents and children to enjoy play time.
Children's Evening Program (CEP) Room
Our CEP Room fosters creativity and imagination! This is where residents aged 5-12 gather after dinner to participate in art projects, writing prompts, mindfulness activities, and yoga. These activities aim to help kids decompress from their day at school and express emotions in unique ways. CEP is under the umbrella of our Family Wellness Services, which are designed to help families heal from past traumas, grow stronger together, and move forward in life feeling confident and able to succeed.
Story Time Room
Every weekday evening, families gather in the Story Time Room to hear a bedtime story and sing songs together as a community. This is a tradition that Raphael House has continued since it was founded. At the end of Story Time, our staff lights the Raphael House candle — an angel shaped candlestick — and drops each child and their family off at their rooms one by one to signify bedtime.
Roof Deck Playground & Garden
We are grateful to have a private roof deck and outdoor playground that parents and children can enjoy! In addition to providing families with bikes, scooters, and rollerblades during playtime, Raphael House residents can also relax at our peaceful, lush rooftop garden. Families also use the garden to plant and harvest fruits and veggies throughout the year—a major component of our Family Wellness Services.
Overlooking downtown San Francisco, our Solarium is a bright, open space used for children’s birthday parties, special events, and staff meetings. We celebrate more than 100 birthdays a year at Raphael House. During these special celebrations, we invite families to our Solarium to enjoy tasty food, party games, and birthday cakes! This is just one of many ways Raphael House supports families in our Residential Shelter and after-care Bridge Program.
Please contact our Volunteer Manager Kellen Sarver at [email protected] to schedule a virtual presentation with your company or organization to learn more about Raphael House and our Programs. If you are seeking shelter in San Francisco, click here to learn more about accessing Raphael House services.