Gov. Gavin Newsom is eyeing more than 900 hotels statewide to house the homeless and halt the spread of coronavirus, while District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston has a similar plan for the scandal-plagued 555 Fulton development.
One of the more maddening aspects to Mayor London Breed’s sweeping, COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders for the city of San Francisco was how the homeless population was “strongly urged to to obtain shelter.” Like, what are they supposed to do? Governor Gavin Newsom seems to be moving pretty proactively on this one, as KPIX reports that the state of California is eyeing more than 900 hotels statewide in which to house the unsheltered population, including two (yet unnamed) hotels near Oakland International Airport.
SF just ordered everyone to "shelter in place" but says that homeless individuals are "exempt but are strongly urged to to obtain shelter" .... as if folks have a choice.— Sam Lew (@samklew) March 16, 2020
Today the shelter waitlist has 799 people on it. #774 on the list is 69 years old. pic.twitter.com/xsbB2VlfxO
The move is particularly urgent with the news that a Santa Clara County man was the first homeless person confirmed killed by coronavirus on Monday, according to Vice, as that county is struggling with a current 138 COVID-19 cases, the most of any county in the state.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Francisco San Carlos (***)— 2look4beds (@2look4beds) October 10, 2018
PASQUALE UMBERTO RUNIERI has just reviewed the hotel Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Francisco San Carlos in San Carlos - United States of America #Hotel #SanCarloshttps://t.co/FLOJW4mBE3 pic.twitter.com/57iXJtj2c6
The above-pictured Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in San Carlos has been leased out by the state — but not for the homeless population. That facility has been leased out for the Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who tested positive for coronavirus, and the place is being guarded by US marshals. (Maybe that’s what Sen. Marco Rubio means by “marshall law.”) In terms of the homeless population being housed in hotels, Newsom said that 393 rooms at two separate hotels near the Oakland Airport have been procured. The rooms will be cared for and controlled by the state, not the hotel staff, and Newsom is also planning to set up quarantine trailers elsewhere for the unsheltered population who are not infected.
“We will overwhelm ourselves if we don’t move with real urgency in this space,” Newsom said in a statement, saying his goal was 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.”
San Francisco is not mentioned in Newsom’s plans, but Supervisor Dean Preston has proposed a similar action. The Examiner reports that Preston has wants to use the mostly vacant 555 Fulton as shelter for the homeless population. Yes, this is the same 555 Fulton ensnared in the Mohammed Nuru scandal wherein Nuru and his girlfriend accepted trips and gifts from its billionaire owner Zhang Li, leaving Li on the business end of 14 City Attorney subpoenas.
“It has come to my attention that currently most of the [555 Fulton] units sit vacant, fully ready for occupancy,” Sup. Preston wrote to Li’s Z&L Properties, in a letter obtained by the Examiner. “I write with the hope that you will activate these units for those at risk during this time of great need.”
It’s a clever move by Preston, knowing that the city has the developer Li bent over the barrel at the moment, and perhaps Li is eager for any leniency he can score prior to upcoming legal proceedings. Whether that works or not remains to be seen, but statewide, we are likely to see more unsheltered people put into housing and hospitality situations than at any point prior in California’s growing homelessness crisis.
Related: Coronavirus Vaccine Begins Testing On Volunteers In Seattle [SFist]
Image: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott via Yelp