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City Begins Rehousing Vulnerable Homeless Moved into Hotels Due to COVID-19

News Release

San Francisco, CA — San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) and non-profit partner agencies have begun a concerted effort to identify stable longer-term housing solutions for individuals currently staying in hotels as part of San Francisco’s COVID-19 response. Care Coordinators have started the first phase of engagement with households in an initial set of hotels, and the City and service provider staff have begun executing transitions for households, with several guests receiving keys to their new housing this past week.

For the last seven months, the City of San Francisco has directly faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by working with local, state, and national agencies to provide care and resources for the City’s vulnerable populations.

In March, a shelter-in-place order was issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) due to the community spread of COVID-19. The City of San Francisco activated the first Shelter-in-Place (SIP) hotel in April, providing a safe place for individuals who were at the highest risk for severe disease. Over the intervening 6 months, the City expanded the emergency SIP program to include 29 SIP hotel sites. Thanks to the hard work of City Departments and non-profit partners, San Francisco opened and filled nearly 20% of the hotel rooms under the state’s Project Roomkey, despite San Francisco only having 5% of the state’s homeless population.

“Moving thousands of people into hotels was a monumental task that took incredible efforts from city workers and our non-profits partners, and now we need to bring that same focus to move people into stable housing,” said Mayor Breed. “Our hotel program was always temporary, but we are committed to ensuring that no one ends up on the street. COVID has presented us with many challenges, but we will continue to do the work necessary to meet the needs of the impacts of this pandemic on our City and our residents.”

Over the coming months, as part of the SIP Rehousing Plan, the City and HSH are planning to offer rehousing options to over 2,300 guests sheltering in place at SIP hotels. Phase One of this Plan, which is in process, will focus on offering rehousing to more than 500 guests at 7 SIP hotels over the coming weeks. The Fiscal Year 2020-21 and 2021-22 budget provides funding, reliant on Proposition C and other state and General Fund sources, to allow for a gradual wind-down of the hotel program, with people being moved out in phases, with the remaining guests being rehoused by the end of June.

As part of the SIP Rehousing Plan, Care Coordinators from the HSH-funded service providers and HSH staff are meeting with SIP guests, conducting assessments, and matching them to more sustainable housing resources. This work has begun, and it will be challenging due to the unique impacts and continued evolution of COVID-19. The process will include continuous evaluation and adjustments to allow for the plan to be improved and adapted based on learnings from each phase to ensure successful outcomes for people.

“Under Mayor London Breed’s leadership, the City has never been more committed to ending homelessness,” said Abigail Stewart-Kahn, Interim Director, San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “Together, we will realize our goal of exiting anyone who came inside during this crisis to stability.”

About the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH)

San Francisco is a pioneer in homeless services and a leader in providing supportive housing as a permanent exit from homelessness. The San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) strives to make homelessness rare, brief, and one time and seeks to be a national leader in the movement to end homelessness through a Homeless Response System comprising a coordinated, client-focused system of services, piloting innovative models, and implementing proven solutions with measurable results.

Major programs include street outreach and service connection through the Homeless Outreach Team; a robust shelter system for single adults and families including shelters for members of the LGBT community and survivors of domestic violence; Navigation Centers that provide temporary shelter for individuals and couples using a low-threshold model; rapid rehousing rental subsidies for families, adults, seniors and transitional aged youth; the Homeward Bound program which has helped 10,000 individuals return to stable housing in their city of origin; and robust supportive housing programs of nearly 7,500 units which provide permanent housing and services to formerly homeless individuals and families.

About the City’s COVID-19 Alternative Housing:

The City has established a variety of COVID-19 Alternative Housing options, including private hotels, congregate sites, trailers, and recreational vehicles (RVs). Many sites have on-site medical and behavioral health staff as needed for guests. Public health and human service officials assess and determine the most appropriate housing option and on-site services to meet the needs of the different populations. Additional information can be found on the City’s COVID-19 Alternative Housing Dashboard: https://data.sfgov.org/stories/s/COVID-19-Alternative-Housing/4nah-suat/

About The Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan

In July 2020, Mayor Breed announced a plan to fund a Homelessness Recovery Plan. Through the Homelessness Recovery Plan, the City will expand capacity in the Homelessness Response System and will make 6,000 placements available for people experiencing homelessness, including 4,500 placements in Permanent Supportive Housing. This includes acquiring or leasing 1,500 new units of Permanent Supportive Housing in the next two years, the largest one-time expansion in the City in 20 years.

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Contact info

Mayor’s Office of Communications