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Save Cameo House: Help Protect San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable Women and Their Children!

Updates from the Save Cameo House Campaign:


Please donate to our Save Cameo House campaign. We will earmark all donations between February 26th and March 31st to Save Cameo House. Donate today!

Cameo House families gather together for an Easter celebration.

Cameo House families gather together for an Easter celebration.

CJCJ’s Cameo House is San Francisco’s only long-term transitional housing and alternative sentencing program for homeless, justice-involved women and their children. Starting next month, Cameo House will experience a devastating loss of funding and be completely defunded at the end of June. This budget cut was unexplained and unexpected. CJCJ has enjoyed years of close partnership and collaboration with its funder, the San Francisco Adult Probation Department (SFAPD). By ending Cameo House’s contract, SFAPD will cripple essential services for San Francisco's most vulnerable women and children of color.  

“There are no other reentry programs that will let you have a child. When women get incarcerated, they tend to be the primary caregiver, and when they get out they are supposed to go back to those roles, but we don’t have a way to support them, other than Cameo House.”

- San Francisco Adult Probation Department

Cameo House invests in San Francisco’s homeless women of color

Since 1997, Cameo House has supported families in getting back on their feet with safety, dignity, and respect. For most participants, Cameo House is an alternative to prison or jail. It keeps families together by allowing mothers to live with their children in a healthy home-like environment. The majority of participants are serving an alternative sentence through the program by the San Francisco Superior Court and supervised by various agencies. Cameo House is also a reunification and transitional housing program for formerly incarcerated women. The program has earned strong support from a wide range of city agencies, including the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and pretrial services.

“The system is set up to separate families and Cameo House is not that at all. They will fight 100% to keep families together and to help you be with your children. That’s different from the other programs out there.” 

- Cameo House participant

The 12-24 month program focuses on supporting participants as they navigate these systems to meet their goals and address challenges. Areas for support include mental health needs such as complex/post trauma, family reunification, maintaining justice compliance, addressing substance use, enrolling in education or vocational training programs, finding employment, and transitioning into stable housing. For participants who have been impacted by the child welfare system, Cameo House staff provide step-by-step reunification services to help mothers regain custody of their children and strengthen family bonds.  

Cameo families petting rabbits with the SFSPCA	(left), Celebrating Mother’s Day at Cameo House (right)

Cameo families petting rabbits with the SFSPCA (left), Celebrating Mother’s Day at Cameo House (right)

SFAPD is defunding the Cameo House program

SFAPD, without any stated justification, is defunding the Cameo House program entirely by July 1, 2021. The last-minute decision to terminate Cameo House’s contract will end SFAPD’s support for this long-standing, community-based, gender-specific program that serves San Francisco's most vulnerable homeless women with children. This move contradicts San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s December 2020 guidance on prioritizing programs that produce positive outcomes for homeless individuals with an emphasis on racial equity. 

Cameo House breaks cycles of incarceration for San Franciscans

The value of a program like Cameo House cannot be overstated. Maternal incarceration is devastating to families and can leave children with lifelong trauma that affects their physical and mental well-being. We are helping to break the intergenerational cycle of trauma and justice system involvement. In Cameo House’s consistent home-like environment, mothers can build healthy lifestyles and their children can thrive.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Cameo House. A lot has to do with myself, but they gave me a place to do that. I feel like they gave me space to find myself…and a chance to get it together.” 

- Cameo House participant

Cameo House serves as an alternative to incarceration for over 70 percent of participants, thereby saving expensive incarceration costs and keeping families intact. Currently, our program is home to 10 women and 9 children who are living on-site and/or receiving reunification services. Nearly 90 percent of Cameo House participants are homeless women of color, specifically Black and Latina women. A January 2021 external program evaluation found that of the 22 women and 18 children served between September 2019 and September 2020:

CJCJ needs your support to keep essential services open

We must come together to ensure Cameo House’s sustainable future through alternative funding. Unless we move quickly, the program will be forced to close its doors. Losing CJCJ’s essential resource would jeopardize participants’ health and safety and leave women and children particularly vulnerable in the midst of a pandemic.

“I had to find a program where I could have my baby…One [house that was recommended] was too programmed. I needed to learn how to live, not how to program...At Cameo House I’m learning how to live.” 

- Cameo House participant

Every day, Cameo House invests in the unique strengths and diversity of our participants and their children. We are proud to offer a haven for San Francisco mothers and children, and with your support we hope to continue keeping families strong and whole for years to come. 

     

Please join our Save Cameo House campaign. We will earmark all donations between February 26th and March 31st to Save Cameo House. Donate today!

Contact: For more information, please email us at cjcjmedia@cjcj.org.

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