The following is a letter sent in response to legislation regarding the use of hotel rooms for homeless residents during the Covid-19 pandemic:
In San Francisco, we have long faced serious challenges in managing the crisis of homelessness on our streets. Every day we provide shelter and care to fifteen thousand people, whether in our permanent supportive housing units, in our Navigation Centers, or through direct outreach to those living on our streets. But we all know that isn’t enough. We have a chronic housing shortage. We have people struggling with mental health and substance use issues out on our streets. These challenges did not go away when this pandemic started, in fact it has gotten even more difficult to help people.
During this crisis, I’m incredibly proud of the work that our city workers and non-profit partners are doing every day to provide shelter and care for so many in our City, especially in this era of social distancing. Outreach workers are delivering services to people with behavioral health challenges while trying to stay six feet apart. Shelter workers are keeping people fed and safe while making sure everyone can maintain proper distancing. Janitors and cleaning crews are doing the deep cleaning necessary to help prevent the spread of this virus. Each of them is part of the many solutions we are taking on to help our most vulnerable residents through this pandemic.
One initiative we have put into action is to secure hotel rooms for our homeless residents. These rooms are especially important for those who need to self-isolate because they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, or because they’ve been exposed to the virus. In San Francisco, we have so far secured 1,536 rooms for our homeless residents and those who cannot self-isolate due to their crowded living conditions. These rooms have allowed us to move people out of our shelters to allow for social distancing, and to begin moving our most vulnerable residents off the streets. These are in addition to hundreds of additional hotel rooms we have secured for our health care workers and first responders who are taking care of everyone in our City. And every day, we are working to add more hotels.