The Board of Supes directly defied Mayor London Breed today and passed unanimously an emergency bill that mandates the city immediately secure 8,250 hotel rooms for homeless people.
The move comes a month after some of the board members first began asking the mayor, privately, to move people out of congregate settings like shelters.
The Mayor’s Office has repeatedly said that hotels rooms aren’t necessary for all of the homeless people, and in her press conference several days ago chided the supervisors for pushing this issue.
Sup. Hillary Ronen said she and her colleagues had tried for a month to work with the mayor and not turn this into a political issue.
“We worked nonstop behind the scenes,” Ronen said.
But week after week, as if became more clear that the virus was going to spread in the homeless community, the Mayor’s Office continued to put its efforts into building a new, large, congregate center at Moscone Center.
“When I got a call early in the morning to tell me that that someone had tested positive at the Division Circle Shelter, I said that my staff and myself were ready to help move people to hotels. I was told that the city wasn’t going to do that… A few days later, 70 people tested positive at the Multi-Service Center.”
The mayor’s director of the Human Services Agency, Trent Rhorer, said that it’s not “fiscally responsible” to rent large numbers of hotel rooms.
But Ronen said that “we have turned this city upside down in the economy.” Some small businesses may not survive. Unemployment is soaring. But “lives are more important,” she said.
“We have not done that for the unhoused population.”
There are, Ronen estimated, 5,600 people living on the streets who are fully able to care for themselves. “I disagree with the mayor that they don’t need help,” she said.
The measure takes effect immediately, and the mayor can’t veto it.
So now it will be up to the Breed Administration to decide how to move forward and follow the law, in a timely fashion, when it’s clear that the senior people don’t want to do that.
And the lives of thousands are at imminent risk.