SAN FRANCISCO – Exactly one day after Mayor London Breed announced plans to prioritize hotel rooms for the homeless, five supervisors stepped in saying the city has not gone far enough.
Supervisors Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton and Aaron Peskin introduced an emergency ordinance that would secure 8,250 hotel rooms and 7,000 would go to the homeless.
Jillian Hitch gave KPIX an exclusive look at the close quarters inside Division Circle Navigation Center right now. The beds are still within inches of each other. There’s no soap in the bathrooms and no towels for people to shower.
“It’s really, really dirty, they’ve run out of masks, run out of soap,” Hitch said.
Hitch is currently staying at the center. She watched, last week, as someone near her tested positive for Covid-19. She says she doesn’t feel safe.
Two more cases of coroniavirus were confirmed at the MSC South shelter, over the weekend.
“There were hundreds of people who may have come into contact with those who had the virus and as of today only 27 people out of that shelter have been moved,” Haney said.
Mayor London Breed originally planned to thin out the shelter population with mega-shelters like Moscone West, but supervisors called the plan dangerous.
“Would you put your family there? I don’t think so,” Ronen said.
For several weeks, the Mayor held firm that the city would give hotel rooms to first responders and anyone in need of medical quarantine, and that some homeless individuals would move into hotels but most would stay in shelters.
On Monday, Mayor Breed reversed course saying homeless individuals over the age of 60 and anyone with underlying health conditions would be prioritized for hotel rooms. The emergency ordinance goes further and faster than that. It immediately would begin pulling people out of shelters and placing them in hotel rooms.
“Every single hour we wait we are putting people at risk,” Haney said.
The ordinance reallocates 8,250 private hotel rooms secured by the city; 7,000 would go to homeless individuals; 750 would be for front line workers; and, 500 would go to those in need of medical quarantine. Supervisors are demanding people be placed in hotels by April 26, when the virus is expected to peak in California.
An emailed statement from Mayor Breed’s spokesperson said, “City staff is working every day to address the challenges presented by this crisis, including how to keep our unsheltered population healthy. This has been one of our top priorities since the Mayor declared a state of emergency and it continues to be today.
We are moving forward with getting our vulnerable residents into hotel rooms, and prioritizing public health in all of our decision-making for those living in congregate settings. The City is moving at an unprecedented pace under crisis circumstances and we will continue to adapt to meet this challenge as it evolves.”
For Hitch who has to sleep in the shelter tonight and cannot social distance or wash her hands, additional hotel rooms can’t come quickly enough.