CBS SF, May 28, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Several San Francisco Supervisors were once again voicing their displeasure with what they say is the city’s slow pace in placing homeless people in hotel rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They renewed pleas to Mayor London Breed Wednesday, demanding the process be sped up.
Last month, the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an emergency ordinance authored by supervisors Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston and Shamann Walton requiring the city to lease 8,250 hotel rooms, with at least 7,000 reserved for the city’s homeless, regardless of their age, health status, or whether they’re on the streets or in the city’s shelter system by this past Sunday.
Although Breed had the power to veto the emergency ordinance, she did not and allowed it to become law. However, more than a month later, Breed has still refused to implement the ordinance.
The city will stick to its original plan of acquiring 7,000 hotel rooms for homeless people in the shelter system and single-room-occupancy hotel residents whoeither have tested positive for COVID-19 or may have been exposed, as well as for homeless individuals who are over 60 or have underlying health conditions, regardless if they’re on the streets or in the shelter system.
Some of those rooms will also be used to house frontline workers.
Breed has cited staffing as a major challenge in securing more rooms for the general homeless population.
During a news conference Wednesday, Walton, Ronen, Haney and Preston once again demanded that Breed implement the ordinance and provide
rooms for people living on the streets to further protect them from COVID-19.
According to the supervisors, between April 27 and May 25 the city added just 19 hotel rooms to its stock of rooms, bringing the total to 2,175 leased rooms. Of those, 1,365 hotel rooms are being occupied.
Additionally, so far, 1,064 people living in shelters or on the streets have been placed in rooms, while the remaining rooms are being
occupied by frontline workers who need to self-isolate, supervisors said.
“The progress of bringing people into hotel rooms has slowed to nearly a halt,” Haney said. “The progress has been painfully slow,
considering the Department of Homelessness (and Supportive Housing) has identified over 2,200 unsheltered individuals who should be moved into hotels.”
According to Haney, hundreds of rooms already leased remain vacant.
“It’s unacceptable to be contracting rooms at such a slow rate,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that there are people sleeping on the sidewalk, literally in the shadows of empty hotels. In some cases, in the shadows of empty hotels that we are already paying for rooms in.”
Addressing Breed directly, Ronen said, “If you’re unwilling to implement our plan for how to fix this human crisis, then please tell us whatyour plan is. We are sick of meaningless press releases and cleverly named programs or initiatives that do nothing. What we want, and what we’re begging you for is for action, change and results. That’s what we haven’t seen from your administration.”
On Tuesday, Breed said so far, by moving vulnerable homeless shelter residents in hotel rooms, capacity at the city’s shelters has been
reduced by 76 percent. Additionally, 98 homeless people living on the streets of the city’s Hunters Point and Bayview neighborhoods have been placed in RVs and trailers at Pier 94.