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Friday, March 5, 2021
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Housing Homelessness Supes to push for more hotel rooms for unhoused

Supes to push for more hotel rooms for unhoused

The feds will pay for 100 percent of the cost -- so why is the Breed Administration moving so slowly?

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Now that the federal government has promised to pay for cities to put unhoused people in hotels until September, 2021 Sup. Matt Haney plans to introduce legislation that would direct the city to open more rooms.

Although the hotel program in San Francisco has been a great success, putting more than 2,000 people into safe shelter, the Mayor’s Office has been trying to phase it out – mainly on the grounds that it wasn’t clear the federal money would still be in place.

Under the last administration, money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency covered only 75 percent of the cost of rooms and was approved on a month-to-month basis, leaving cities in a sort of limbo.

But that’s not a problem right now, since the Biden Administration now says FEMA will pay 100 percent of the cost of getting vulnerable homeless people into hotel rooms for at least the next nine months.

Haney told me that “we absolutely should be” opening more hotel rooms. He said he met with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the Human Services Administration today and “it’s shameful how slow they are moving and plan to move.”

He told me that “they have not moved one person off the streets and into a hotel since November.” The only people moved into hotel rooms were 69 folks who were released from hospitals – who without the hotel rooms might have wound up on the streets.

Haney’s colleagues have been overwhelmingly supportive of opening more hotel rooms the mayor and the board have been directly at odds over the strategy.

Not only is a way to get people off the streets and into safety, “It’s such a good deal for the hotels,” Haney told me.

In a signal that the Mayor’s Office is wary of more accommodations for homeless people, Mayor London Breed said in a press conference that she doesn’t want to encourage people from other cities to come to San Francisco and seek help.

In what is now a viral video, the mayor said:

If you were not on our list … in our homeless system as of April last year, and you think you can come to San Francisco thinking this is an opportunity to get help, unfortunately we are not going to be able to help you. We are not going to jump the line for people who just decided to come to San Francisco yesterday.

Of course, it’s pretty likely that a significant number of people who live in San Francisco have become homeless since April. It’s also very clear that a lot of local homeless people are not “in the system.”

So the mayor seems to be saying that none of them are eligible for help (and certainly not for a hotel room)

“That’s wrong and it’s cruel,” Haney said. Many people have become homeless in the past few months. And they are just recycling a trope to undermine this program when we should be building it up. It’s infuriating.”.
I also find it interesting that the mayor of San Francisco would say that people who experiencing homelessness are not welcome in this city when the city rolled out the red carpet for high-paid tech workers to move here from somewhere else. They got to “jump the line” by displacing long-time residents; they got to “jump the line” by using private luxury buses to go to work – often interfering with the operations of Muni for the rest of us.

I never once heard London Breed complain about their preferential treatment.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Gorn, you keep repeating the same garbage without proof. The simple fact. Is, Breed is pandering to haters, and fighting to keep homeless people on the streets. The BoS is trying to get them off the streets.

  2. geek, we all know the patronage network. They can be identified by remaining employed at city funded nonprofits decade after decade, getting paid to “represent” constituencies that the City is otherwise screwing by negotiating their surrender.

  3. Geekgirl, I think it is a little more complicated than that.

    Obviously tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent, nor for repeated late payment of rent.

    Also the “no fault” evictions are banned such as Ellis and OMI.

    So you can only be evicted for nuisance, noise, illegal behaviour and other just causes that you would surely expect to the case.

  4. flight505, exactly! As I pointed out, she had the fire chief making totally unsubstantiated claims about people pouring in from elsewhere. Breed pushes a mythology that claims that huge numbers of homeless people come here after being informed of the wonderful benefits they will find here. What makes it so laughable is the total falseness of such claims. The simple fact is, with the exception of “food stamps” the available benefits are limited, difficult to access, and, if the person is able, require workfare. And, of course, food stamps are available everywhere. The only way to get a guaranteed bed in a shelter is to apply for, and receive benefits from the County Adult Assistance Program. This requires workfare, if able, monthly appoints with a worker, accepting a bed in a shelter, and other restrictions, all to get around $50 a month. Well, technically, it is $588 a month, but they take out money for food, shelter, and such. A huge majority of homeless don’t bother applying.

  5. Tom, there are loopholes in the eviction moratorium. People cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent, but they can be evicted for other reasons.

  6. Gorn, you are a one trick pony. First, you make absurd claims about “patronage networks.” What a load of crap. Breed is seeking to score with her official Ed Lee Political Football. She is making excuses not to actually deal with homelessness because, well, it would be too humane to give people who were not “in the system” before April, because the might be “newcomers.” In another words, people who did not entire the often abusive Human Services maze can’t get help. Even if they were residents of San Francisco before April, and irregardless if they became homeless after April. Classic Breed, following in the failed footsteps of Jordan, Brown, Newsom, Lee, and Farrell.

    And the Board is trying to do what is right. Take advantage of a free way to get people off of the streets. But you are obsessed with imagined non-profits seeking to become rich…which ignores the laws that govern nonprofits.

    And your second claim is patently false. There is a program, called “Step Up,” that allows people in Supportive Housing to apply to move into regular apartments. I have a friend who took advantage of this. Be honest, you don’t have a clue…or you don’t care about the truth.

  7. zrants, the nonprofit housing developers are in the business of infantiizing residents and keeping them powerless. No way no how would they ever allow their clients to gain self sufficient agency and capital. If that won’t work for one member of one oppressed group, then nobody should have that option.

  8. Some of the non-profits in the business of building new housing should perhaps switch to purchasing existing hotels, and empty apartments and condos to turn them into permanent affordable housing. The money would probably go a lot further. Maybe some of the neighborhood benefit district funds could be used for such a program. As un-housed people move off the streets, many will return to work as the economy reopens and will be able to pay rent again. They could be offered a rent-to-buy option. This would give people a lot of incentive to pay rent and increase the number of potential first time home owners. By then the city bank may be up and running and able to participate in some of these programs as well.

  9. The only question on Breed and the Supervisors’ mind is how do they leverage these dollars to bolster our patronage network. Breed will try to enrich her hotel patrons and direct any contracts to her associated nonprofits.

    The Board, for their part, could not care if they enrich Breed’s base, so long as some of the contracts go to nonprofits affiliated with their political op.

  10. “it’s pretty likely that a significant number of people who live in San Francisco have become homeless since April”

    Is it? Evidence?

    There is an eviction and foreclosure moratorium in place, and tenants can pay zero rent with impunity right now. So why would any renter or owner be put out on the streets?

    It is more “likely” in my view that Breed is correct. If SF is offering free hotel rooms to anyone who shows up and claims to be homeless, then it is natural that people elsewhere will find a way of getting to SF to claim their free hotel room.

    It is funny how you use Covid as a pretext for policies you supported before the virus, like rent forgiveness, no evictions for any reason, and hotel rooms for the homeless. Opportunism, perhaps?

  11. Again Breed shows her hatred of homeless peopled. It is remarkable, though, that she’s so rage filled that she can’t at least see there’s a significant economic advantage to having people staying in hotels. Normally, the idea of tourism and giant conventions thrill her because that makes her funders happy …. occupied rooms mean dollars for them. But it also means employment for hotel workers. That all of this would be subsidized by the the federal government should make it fairly enticing. Plus, if homeless people are placed in hotels, she won’t have to call the police to have someone removed from a bench the next time she goes to Hayes Valley for lunch (outside, of course).

  12. This is not surprising. Breed is, again, using the homeless as a political football. She is playing fast and loose with facts to insure that people remain on the streets, and to reinforce false claims about the homeless. Back last year, she had her fire chief making unsubstantiated, and vague claims about people pouring into the City looking for handouts that are largely nonexistent. Breed knows that it would be impossible to mount a recall during the pandemic. Signatures cannot be gathered online like the Stale allows. And she can use the pandemic to harass and block gathering them.Hopefully,people will remember this when things return to normal and send her packing.

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