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Thursday, June 17, 2021

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HousingHomelessnessSupes move to open more hotel rooms for homeless

Supes move to open more hotel rooms for homeless

Legislation could set up another confrontation with Mayor Breed, who wants to wind down the hotel program.


Now that the Biden Administration has agreed to pay for it, five supervisors are moving to expand the city’s shelter-in-place hotel system to get and keep homeless people off the streets.

The bill would mandate that the city keep 2,200 hotel rooms open, and allow people still living on the streets to move in as current residents exit to other forms of housing.

Five supes want to continue — and expand — the shelter-in-pace hotel program.

That sets up another potential confrontation with Mayor London Breed, who has been moving to wind down the hotel program and has resisted efforts to expand it.

The five are Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton, Hillary Ronen, and Myrna Melgar. It seems highly likely that they will get the eight votes they need to pass this as emergency legislation.

In a press release, the supervisors noted:

So far in 2021, the prevalence of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness increased by over 30%. Based on a count in December of 2020, there were at least 1,300 people experiencing homelessness in tents and vehicles, not including potentially thousands more people sleeping unsheltered. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of hotel rooms that the City already has under contract that are unfilled, and dozens of vacant hotels not yet under contract.


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The legislation will address street homelessness and the risks of COVID associated with it by requiring the City to keep 2,200 hotel rooms open for temporary shelter. This would involve backfilling 100% of rooms that are vacated clients exiting the hotels, which is currently happening at a rate of approximately 115 people per month; filling at least 100 hotel rooms that are currently vacant; and making at least 200 more rooms available, potentially by opening new hotels. Over the 60 days that the emergency ordinance will be “active,” these changes will mean more hotel capacity for over 500 people. 

In addition, the emergency ordinance would also reverse the Department of Homelessness’s policy that limits housing eligibility to only people in the SIP Hotels. There are hundreds of people currently sleeping on the streets who are “document ready” for housing, essentially meaning they are on a waitlist, but under the Department’s current policy they won’t be able to move into housing until the SIP Hotels are closed in September. The emergency ordinance will improve the flow of people into housing and fill the hundreds of vacant supportive housing units. 

The Breed Administration’s main objection to continuing to fill the hotel rooms – or to add to the number of rooms – was that the federal funding might run out at any time.

But now it’s clear that the funding will be available for at least another six months or more – and it’s possible that the feds will provide money for cities to buy up hotels for permanent affordable housing.

The legislation could mean another 500 people living without shelter will have the opportunity to move inside, during a pandemic.

The last time around, the mayor simply refused to implement the board’s legislation. This time, there will be less of an excuse.

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.


  1. “Someone needs to figure out a way to deal with the system that determines eligibility for rental assistance that people who need a little support to pay their rent we would have less people “falling through the cracks” ending up on the street. Next we need to investigate the unaffordable “affordable” rents that automatically increase, while market rate unit prices are falling. ”

    The city was very careful, when crafting its rent control ordinance, to exclude from it any properties owned by the feds, state or city, plus any non-profits and “charities”.

    Convenient, huh?

  2. Someone needs to figure out a way to deal with the system that determines eligibility for rental assistance that people who need a little support to pay their rent we would have less people “falling through the cracks” ending up on the street. Next we need to investigate the unaffordable “affordable” rents that automatically increase, while market rate unit prices are falling. The subject was recently covered by CBS news: https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/02/08/some-san-francisco-affordable-housing-units-renting-for-more-than-market-rate-units/

  3. Gorn, Breed has made it clear that she wants to end the use of hotels ASAP. Breed wants people back on the streets, visible and serving as a wedge issue. Putting homeless people in hotels until the pandemic is over is the humane, and moral thing to do. Hence Breed opposes it. She sort of, kind of had the excuse that FEMA was not paying 100%, but Biden took that away. There is no reason to not take advantage of this for the duration of the pandemic. There is no excuse for her obstinate cruelty.

    The impediment is Breed, the reason is pandering to haters. Breed’s base is made up of people who want the homeless abused. No Breed panders to them, just as Lee did.

    And as I have pointed out, the things that Prop C is for are on hold, along with other things, while the pandemic is ongoing.

    You continue to defend Breed’s cruelty.

  4. Geek, Breed has yet to decline FEMA $ for hotels. But she probably will.

    Why have Prop C $ not yet been programmed and expended given the immediate urgency of homelessness?

    Either Breed is the impediment, the “advisory committee” populated by representatives of the Homeless Industrial Complex or the Board of Supervisors. Which one is it and why?

  5. Gorn, the only one “whining” is you. The idea behind Prop C was to create an income source that would not be under Breed’s control. It is a proposition, and that preempt’s Breed control. She has no control on Prop C money, which, by the way, is not yeh issue here. You are trying to misdirect attention. The real issue here is that Breed is choosing to not take advantage of free money that can alleviate at least part of the homeless issue. This is a mother example of Breed’s determination to keep people on the streets. This was Lee’s strategy, and Breed is controlled by the same people who dictated Lee’s policies. The pandemic is currently preventing the sort of projects that Prop C provides for. The real issue is, why does Breed refuse to take advantage of 100% funding for SIP hotels? Why does she want to end that program when it is still needed? Is she that desperate to have tents lining streets again?

    Oh, and it is hilarious how you used “Homeless Industrial Complex” like a child repeating a vulgar word they have just learned. Oh well, if the best you can do is repeat silly clichès, so be it. Oh, and Prop C was put on the ballot by the Coalition on Homelessness, which doesn’t even receive funding from the City. And you are not a person with any actual authority, so why would I blame you? Unless you are actually Breed. Now that would be truly lame.

  6. Geek, So the prog compassioneer whine has been that there is not enough money to begin to get a handle on homelessness. The homeless industrial complex put a measure on the ballot to generate those resources to begin to get a handle on homelessness. Once the money has been released, the homeless industrial complex is sitting on resources while human beings suffer cold rainy season on the streets because the homeless industrial complex has not “figured out” a plan to spend those dollars to ameliorate human suffering on the streets.

    The homeless industrial complex did not make a plan before putting the measure on the ballot. The homeless industrial complex did not plan during the lawsuit when resources were in escrow. And there does not seem to be any hurry to plan and implement now.

    I told you all when the measure was on the ballot that Breed had exclusive power over the budget, irrespective of any ordinances to the contrary. You all said that I hated the homeless. Geek said I was a shill for Breed. It turns out that I was right, Breed is resisting, and now progs would rather do nothing than do what Breed wants. And they will not sue so we know where this ends up.

    The scramble is on to make claims on those dollars and there is a knife fight behind closed doors between various agencies who are vying to make those dollars their personal private property. We know the progs will fold like chairs and Breed will get what she wants. And geek will blame me.

  7. Simba, there are a lot of false claims about the homeless. They don’t flood in here on buses. There is not some secret homeless communications network that tells people about the riches awaiting them here. It has become increasing difficult to get into a shelter. To get a secure place in one requires signing up for assistance, which is a difficult process for most. You cannot hAve any resources, a car or other vehicle, property, etc. you have to perform workfare if able. You have to report in with the county. You have to meet the shelter’s rigid rules. You cannot save the tiny amount you actually receive. And under the current system, it is almost impossible to break free.

  8. Gorn, you repeat the dame tired claims every time this topic comes up. It is better that the money is not being spent as quickly as possible. Those who actually control it have the good sense to wait until things are back to normal and and can properly proceed. I imagine Breed would love for them to rush to spend it, and fail. Theclast thing Breed wants is an real solutions to homelessness.

  9. geek: One might have thought that those who put the measure on the ballot had plans. One might have thought that any one of the City’s regularly produced plans over recent decades might have offered hints on a spending plan. But no, those dollars are sitting in the bank and homeless people are sitting on the sidewalks without access to housing, substance or psych treatment. And you have no problem with this.

  10. I doubt there are really that many people who come to SF and pitch a tent on the sidewalk with the intention of securing a hotel room. Most of the homeless people there were evicted from homes in the same city. The hotel rooms are not a permanent solution unless the city buys the hotels from owners willing to sell. It seems like Ms Breed wants the problem to spontaneously solve itself which doesn’t seem to be happening

  11. Once again, we see Breed using the most vulnerable members of society as her personal political football. Biden is handing the City money to house homeless people during the biggest health crisis since the Spanish Flu, and Breed is balking. She want’s the homeless on the streets so she can use them as a wedge issue. This time, there is no excuse.

  12. Gorn, the “homeless industrial complex” is one of the lamest of clichès. Is that really all you can come up with. Ever consider that the people who control that money are being smart, and not rushing to spend it like a kid with a dollar? That maybe they are waiting until things return to the mess that passes for normal? Of course not. All you do is take cheap shots at anyone who tries to counter the Willy Brown Machine’s exploration of the homeless as a wedge issue.

  13. It has been several months now that the $400m in Prop C $ was released from escrow after a favorable court decision. That number has grown in the interim.

    Has the homeless industrial complex decided how to spend those dollars yet or do we need more plans?

  14. Before moving more homeless people into hotel rooms we need a plan for how we are going to get them out of them later this year. Otherwise it is like building a car with a powerful engine but no brakes.

    The indications are that tourism and business travel will return in the second half of this year. At that point the hotels will not want to be homeless hostels. In fact I doubt any new hotels can be signed up now that the vaccination program is well under way.

    So some patience and prudence about this is warranted, along with a method of ensuring that homeless people cannot just show up in SF and claim their “free” hotel room.

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