Dean Preston put $10,000 of his own money into a private fund that will keep at least 30 unsheltered people put up safely to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic at the Oasis Inn near Civic Center.
You may think of Oasis as the home of drag shows and kitsch theater, but there’s also an Oasis Inn on Franklin Street that is now home to more than 30 people who’d recently been living on the street. KPIX brings us the news that private donors have financed hotel rooms for the homeless population, some 30 of them, at least. This private endeavor is a partnership between District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston and the Providence Foundation, and Preston himself contributed a reported $10,000. The Oasis Inn located in Preston’s district.
This effort is separate from San Francisco’s official plan to place healthcare workers and homeless in hotels, which has not yet sheltered one single person (though per the Mercury News, "Officials hope to start moving people in this week.")
The City inexplicably refuses to launch a shelter to hotel program, despite the advice of the San Francisco’s top Health Officer, so we took matters into our own hands in D5 & housed over 30 people from shelters last night. Thx to all our generous donors! https://t.co/VitqwTJYvr— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) March 25, 2020
“Hours matter, we can’t just sit around discussing these ideas we need to move forward,” Preston told KPIX. We don’t know exactly how many people are being put up, but a block of 20 rooms have been purchased, and Preston’s tweet above notes that “over 30 people from shelters” were checked in Tuesday night.
In some cases these are families, and KPIX spoke to a father of a family of five. “This is a blessing for us because it gives us a shower, a refrigerator,” that father Henry Banks said.
Around 30,000 hotel rooms sit vacant right now. Thirty thousand. We could provide temporary housing for everyone who lacks a place to stay amidst this crisis.— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) March 23, 2020
The move is a departure from Mayor Breed’s 8,500 hotel room response, which Preston is being quite vocal to point out. Breed’s effort is prioritizing healthcare workers, first responders, and previous COVID-19 positive patients who can be discharged from hospitals. That leaves unhoused people at the back of the line. “If we only had a couple thousand rooms available then the city’s approach would make sense,” Preston said. “But we have an estimated 30,000 hotel rooms sitting vacant,”
So there is perhaps an element of politics in this grand philanthropy, just as there was with Preston’s proposal to shelter the homeless at 555 Fulton, a location in the news because of its role in the Mohammed Nuru scandal. But for all the talk we’ve heard about housing the homeless in hotels, this appears to be the first time it’s been successfully implemented in the Bay Area. Alameda County, like San Francisco County, hopes to be checking in guests at government-claimed hotels “by the end of the week” according to KPIX.
Related: Low-Income Seniors at Mission SRO Go Hungry After Food Pantry Stops Delivering [SFist]
Note: This post has been updated to refelect that the Oasis Inn is located within Sup. Preston's District 5.