Without offering many specifics about the plan, Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday said that private hotels and motels were being "procured" in order to provide emergency shelter and isolation space for the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During a press conference in which the governor issued a sweeping order to close all bars, nightclubs, breweries, and winery tasting rooms in the state, he also answered questions about how the state planned to deal with the growing threat posed by the virus in the homeless population. Per the Sacramento Bee, Newsom called this a "top concern" for the state government, and alluded to a new plan involving private hotels and motels, without naming any localities.
Newsom explained that the state was working on an effort 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."
It remains unclear how many towns and cities may be involved with the homeless sheltering measures.
San Francisco has previously repurposed an SRO (single-room-occupancy hotel) — the Civic Center Hotel — into a Navigation Center back in 2016. And New York City regularly uses outer-borough motels to house the homeless, reportedly spending $364 million per year on the program.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who co-chairs the governors task force on homelessness, also gave a press conference Sunday in which he said, "Everyone needs to be indoors," as the Sacramento Bee reports. He added, "And if we can use this terrible crisis to actually take the next steps to find enough beds, enough shelter enough navigation centers, enough permanent supportive housing to dramatically reduce the number on our streets, that would be an incredible silver lining out of a most difficult time."