San Francisco set to spend over $100 million on hotel rooms

Miles Hurley Miles Hurley Uploaded 09 April 2020

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US: In an attempt to manage its vulnerable populations and aide workers, the city of San Francisco is spending a significant amount of money renting out hotel rooms.

The city is already under contract for $35 million worth of hotel rooms over the next three months, with plans to seek up to $7,000 hotel rooms in total for the period.

This follows the city’s ordinance board passing a measure on Tuesday mandating the acquisition of additional rooms to manage those living on the street.  

The city has been attempting to manage infection as well as one of its most pervasive problems- homelessness. The city intended to put many residents of homeless shelters into conference centre Moscone West but changed plans as of yesterday due to a backlash in public opinion.

At the moment thousands are still living in shelters, which suffer from overcrowding.

Currently the number of hotel rooms contracted are split at 1,097 for the homeless and 880 for first responders. The city has dictated that these rooms will be limited to those at greatest risk on both accounts, including those with symptoms, in exposed populations, and those over 60 or with underlying heath concerns.

The city’s expense will be at least partially covered by FEMA, with 75 per cent of the cost being paid by the federal agency, depending on if the rooms qualify. San Francisco also hopes to make use of the $150 million in state funds given to help the homeless.

Both London and Los Angeles have attempted similar solutions to manage rough sleepers, but San Francisco’s solution only covers those in existing shelters. Much of the city’s homeless population is outside this area, with the city’s shelters full before the pandemic hit.

A spokesperson for the mayor told The Guardian yesterday: "We are moving forward with getting our vulnerable residents into hotel rooms, and prioritising public health in all of our decision-making for those living in congregate settings.”

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