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Over 500 Homeless People Will Remain In City-Funded Hotel Rooms As San Francisco Changes Plan

Flickr / Creative Commons
Hotel, San Francisco

Last month, San Francisco announced it would move hundreds of homeless people out of city-funded hotel rooms before Christmas. Now, those plans are changing.

The city currently houses 2,600 people in hotels for up to $18 million a month. That’s supposed to be covered by a mixture of federal, state, and local money, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Because that money might not be sustainable, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing said it was phasing out the program.

But now, the city is changing course, a bit.

Two months ago, the state Supreme Court upheld a business tax passed by San Francisco voters in 2018, which frees up nearly $500 million for homeless services. On Monday, Governor Newsom announced the state would spend $62 million to shelter vulnerable residents. On Thursday, four San Francisco Supervisors announced legislation to keep housing people in hotels until the city can find more permanent solutions.

Hillary Ronen criticized the Department of Homelessness for having no alternative plan to house people, especially as COVID-19 cases surge. She said:

It is outrageous, it's irresponsible, and it basically tells people experiencing homelessness: "You're not a priority for the city."

The proposal to continue the hotel program needs to be considered by the full board. For now, the city's budget for the next fiscal year does not include any funding for the program.

David Exumé (he/him/his) is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow. His reporting interests include music history, immigration, community organizing, and urban planning. He's previously worked at KCRW in Santa Monica and WPRB in Princeton.