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Supes push for 8,000 hotel rooms in emergency ordinance

San Francisco supervisors Tuesday moved to introduce an emergency ordinance that would require The City to procure more than 8,000 hotel rooms to house unsheltered individuals who remain on the streets.

Under the proposal, The City would be required to retain at least 8,250 hotel rooms, of which 7,000 rooms would be reserved for homeless individuals not infected with Covid-19, 750 rooms would be set aside for medical workers; 500 rooms would be dedicated to individuals released from the hospital who cannot self-isolate.

Supervisors Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, Aaron Peskin and Shamann Walton support the emergency ordinance.

The Human Services Agency, led by Trent Rhorer, originally said hotel rooms would be prioritized for patients who have been hospitalized for Covid-19, but no longer need to be in a hospital bed and cannot self-isolate.

Vulnerable populations, such as people over the age of 60 and living in congregated settings or have underlying health conditions, will also be prioritized for a hotel room along with medical workers.

Nik Wojcik Moscone West in San Francisco, Calif. is slated to house approximately 200 people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mayor London Breed had plans to move out nearly 400 individuals living in shelters into Moscone West in order to “thin out” shelters, but those plans have changed. 

After the nonprofit Street Sheet newspaper revealed a photo over the weekend of dozens of mats laid on the floor with tape separating each mat inside Moscone West, city officials are now using the convention center to house individuals who have been quarantined and have recovered from Covid-19. The new configuration will only allow for 200 people split into four different sections.

Hotel rooms will now be prioritized to depopulate shelters, but only for people over the age of 60 or with an underlying condition, Rhorer said Monday.

Supervisor Matt Haney said Tuesday at a noon virtual press conference that many unsheltered residents are still left out:

“People have to be prevented from getting sick in the first place, by being able to be physically and socially distant from others and protect themselves. We are not doing that right now for thousands of people in our city.”

Members of the board said any homeless person who can self-care should get a hotel room.

Ching Wong/SFBay Shelter beds are seen at the Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said:

“It is time to step it up, acquire more hotel rooms, either by negotiation, or by the powers that the mayor has in this emergency to come into your rooms.”

Meanwhile, the board unanimously passed an emergency ordinance to temporarily require private employers of 500 or more employees to provide public health emergency leave to workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ordinance will provide two additional weeks of paid leave to hundreds of thousands of workers in The City who were left out of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Mar said:

“Where our federal government is falling short, cities and states have a moral responsibility to lead. Economic justice and public health are inextricable. When our neighbors can afford to take the time off they need, we are all better off.”

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