Reynolds Rap

CEO of the homeless industrial complex

Coalition on Homelessness boss gets residency for out-of-state unhoused to ‘keep things the same’

My August 2023 Reynolds Rap (“Fraudenbach: How the Coalition on Homelessness is holding San Francisco hostage”) elicited one of the strongest reactions from readers I’ve ever received. A group of concerned citizens from various neighborhood organizations even took hours out of their busy lives to attend the Aug. 3 Homeless Oversight Commission meeting, collectively reading the article word-for-word before its members. 

I’ve referred to Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach as “CEO of the city’s de facto homeless marketing agency,” spending their money on Sharpies and cardboard to make the handwritten signs they hold up at City Hall protests, but one person who reached out after reading my column had a lot worse to say about Friedenbach’s 25-year reign over San Francisco’s homeless industry. A longtime social work professional, he asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “Jennifer is known to be vindictive,” he said, so we’ll call him “Carl.”

Nearly three decades ago, Carl started his career as part of MultiCrisis, meeting the homeless population at night wherever they were staying, from parks to underneath bridges, to educate them about the dangers of dirty needles, and to encourage them to get tested for HIV. From MultiCrisis, Carl moved into triage with San Francisco’s General Assistance program, helping homeless individuals get stabilized and find housing. 

He’s spent 20 years with in-home supportive services, or IHSS. Funding for the program is split between federal (60 percent), state (30 percent), and the city (10 percent), but doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. A person only needs to establish residency in San Francisco for two weeks to apply for Supplemental Security Income, but the standards are stricter than most realize. “You have to have an actual address, not a P.O. Box,” Carl explained. “You have to show proof, like a PG&E bill.”

There is, however, one bypass for getting SSI without actual proof of residency: a letter from the Coalition on Homelessness written by Friedenbach. “Then the GA program doesn’t even question it,” Carl said. “Her letter is like a grantee loan certification from the program.”

Twenty years ago, when Carl and his colleagues started SSI GA, Friedenbach was establishing herself as a bright new star on San Francisco’s homelessness front, so they asked her to be part of their program. “We explained that when we help someone with the application process, it can take from two to five years to get approved.” 

Carl says Friedenbach declined the offer — until she realized the money involved. “After that long period of time, once the person does get approved, the check is sizable,” Carl said. “It can be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. When Jennifer saw the dollar amount, she wanted a piece of the pie, and suddenly she was interested in participating.”


There were stipulations for the SSI GA program, including accountability on the part of participants. “Without accountability you have nothing,” Carl said. “We would get them into job training or the trades, or retrain them for something else if they had a disability that prevented them from using their previous skills.” 

There was also a social worker onsite at each of their buildings 24/7. If a resident was causing problems, or was dual diagnosed with mental illness and addiction, they had to go into a rehabilitation facility. 

Friedenbach had a huge issue with that part. “She said, ‘You can’t force someone into treatment, they must be willing and make their own decisions,’” Carl recalled. “And I said, ‘If they were able to make their own decisions, they wouldn’t be here!’” 

Friedenbach saw things differently, so she began taking over the program and molding it to meet her own agenda. “She didn’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” Carl said. “Jennifer wanted to be the middleman. Instead of having the money go back to cover the program’s expenses so that it wouldn’t fall on taxpayers, she wanted a piece of the pie. She didn’t want to be involved until she heard the ‘ka-ching, ka-ching!’”

As Friedenbach’s influence grew, the program fell apart. “I left because of her bullshit, and within two years the program was gone because of her,” Carl said. “You called her ‘Fraudenbach’ [in the title of your article], but you’re being too kind. I call her the ‘homeless pimp.’ We stabilized their lives, she wanted to make money as their middleman. Even a lot of homeless people hate her because the Coalition takes a cut . . .” 

In other words, he’s saying Friedenbach and friends are making a fortune from the misfortune of others. “Every time we try something new, Jennifer puts up a roadblock because she wants to keep things the same. She runs the homeless industrial complex. If you’re able to write a letter for someone who just arrived on a Greyhound bus and get them taxpayer money, you’re the CEO,” Carl said.


In 2018, COH drafted Proposition C to raise millions for “homeless services” by increasing taxes on large businesses. They chose Christin Evans, a frequent participant in COH protests and rallies, as their spokesperson. Proposition C passed, and by 2022 the account swelled to $600 million. The Our City, Our Home Oversight Committee was set up to make sure the funds are “effectively and transparently used.” 

Friedenbach was appointed to the committee by the Board of Supervisors as “Emergency Shelter and Hygiene Liaison.” From remaining funds in the campaign account, Friedenbach gave COH a grant of $250,000. Shockingly, OCOH found no conflict of interest.

In May 2023, the Homeless Oversight Commission launched (thanks, voters, for approving another redundant city commission) to oversee the incompetent Department of Homelessness, appoint members to three other homeless committees, and “receive advice and recommendations from OCOH on the administration of Proposition throughout C funds.” Guess who the Board of Supervisors appointed as one of the commissioners? Christin Evans. 

So let’s recap: After working together to pass Proposition C, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors appointed Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, to the Our City Our Home Oversight Committee to help decide how to spend funds raised by Proposition throughout C, a ballot measure she created and helped to pass. 

After its creation in May 2023, supervisors appointed Friedenbach’s fellow Coalition on Homelessness and Proposition C lobbyist Christin Evans to the Homeless Oversight Commission, which “receives advice and recommendations” from Friedenbach’s committee on the administration of Proposition throughout C funds. 

Conflicts of interest? You bet. More of the same incestuous City Hall appointments that keep San Francisco running like a broken clock — though I doubt city leaders are right twice a day. 

Both Friedenbach and Evans have humongous conflicts of interest and should step down from their respective appointments. If they refuse, the Board of Supervisors should grow a backbone and remove them.

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Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanDReynolds.

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