OAKLAND (CBS SF) — State officials have announced they have leased rooms in two hotels near Oakland International Airport to house homeless during the coronavirus crisis.
State officials have identified 901 hotels around California that may be leased to provide housing for the homeless.
On a Monday night Facebook chat, Newsom said the state was taking the action to “get people out of encampments and into environments where we can address their growing anxiety and our growing concern about the health of some of our most vulnerable Californians.”
According to Newsom, state officials have already reached lease agreements for 393 rooms at two unnamed hotels located near the Oakland airport. He said control of the rooms would be turned over to local officials so they can determined how they will be used during the growing spread of the coronavirus in the state.
In Washington, Sen. Dianne Feinstein tossed her support behind Newsom’s efforts.
“I support Governor Newsom’s steps to move homeless individuals indoors,” Feinstein said. “Using hotels, motels and trailers to house the homeless will help limit the spread of the virus. Cities and counties are also stepping up to provide housing, increase sanitary conditions and provide additional health care.”
“The governor said his goal is to ‘get people out of encampments and into environments where we can address their growing anxiety and our growing concern.’ He’s absolutely right,” she continued. “We have to ensure this vulnerable population receives the care it needs.”
On Monday, Santa Clara County official announced two new deaths from the virus including a homeless man.
Meanwhile in San Carlos, former passengers of the Grand Princess who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but did not require hospitalization were already being housed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Skyway Road. The 120-room hotel is enclosed by a fence perimeter and is guarded by U.S. Marshals, with the help of California Highway Patrol officers.
The passengers, officials said, are not allowed to be taken to military bases because the Department of Defense doesn’t allow those who are ill on its properties.
Officials have also said they plan to distribute trailers around the state where homeless people can shelter or be quarantined. Newsom also said his office was working with shelters across the state to make sure they create distance in accord with social distancing between beds to help stop the spread of the virus.
California has more than 100,000 homeless residents sleeping on the street on any given night including thousands of people in the Bay Area.
“We will overwhelm ourselves if we don’t move with real urgency in this space,” Newsom said of the leasing plan.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, San Francisco has moved to set up trailers where sick homeless people who need to be quarantined but not hospitalized can go.
San Jose has also ended sweeps of encampments, worried asking people to pick up and relocate could facilitate the spread of the virus. The city also delivered hand washing stations, portable toilets and other supplies to 14 sites with sizable groups of homeless people.
Oakland officials have added more hand washing stations and portable toilets at the city’s homeless encampments.