SF's Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) and the Department of Public Works were approaching about a dozen homeless people on the streets of the Tenderloin on Thursday, and offering them shuttle bus rides to a nearby hotel. And this is the first of multiple operations the team will reportedly be doing in the coming weeks.
It's been over a month since San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the HOT team unveiled a plan to address the boom in street-camping in the Tenderloin. And it's been almost three months since the city's Board of Supervisors first pushed to provide hotel space for everyone living on the streets. For various reasons that will be explained differently by those supervisors than they will be by the mayor's office, about 1,275 hotel rooms are currently occupied by vulnerable homeless people and others who were previously unsheltered during the pandemic and about 1,000 more available rooms remain unoccupied.
Mayor Breed has said multiple times that vulnerable populations — particularly homeless people over 60 and those with underlying conditions — would be given priority, along with those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or are recovering from the disease outside of the hospital.
Breaking: Major deployment under way in the Tenderloin, where perhaps 300 street dwellers may be moved into hotel rooms.— Mission Local (@MLNow) June 11, 2020
This comes on the very day Supervisor Matt Haney is holding a hearing on the status of the Tenderloin Plan. https://t.co/FV1C4y2BwH
Now, as Mission Local reports, the team was somehow selecting individuals and couples today to win this particular lottery ticket, apparently regardless of a COVID diagnosis or particular vulnerability status. About 15 rooms were waiting to be filled at the are hotel, and some 300 rooms are expected to be filled in this current push. An outreach worker declined to say where the operation might move in the coming days, because they do not want any homeless to specifically follow them around.
(As Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson claimed several weeks ago, the promise of free hotel rooms has drawn homeless people to the city "from all over place — Sacramento, Lake County, Bakersfield...")
District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney says he was not told about the city's operation today, and as Mission Local points out, he had been planning to hold a hearing today on the status of the Tenderloin plan.
As of today, according to city data, 2,373 hotel rooms have been leased for housing homeless individuals, 2,100 of which have been "activated," or prepared to shelter a person potentially infected with COVID-19. 1,982 of these units are currently occupied, and 1,291 units (some of which are also either congregate or RV units) are occupied by persons who are considered "vulnerable."
It's unclear whether the city is continuing to seek out those more vulnerable to severe cases of the virus, or if it is now randomly selecting younger and less vulnerable people to move into rooms as part of the broader plan to clear the sidewalks of the Tenderloin.
As of a month ago, the city established a "safe sleeping village" in the middle of Civic Center for 50 tents, many of which were occupied by people recently camped nearby. Mayor Breed has previously said that homeless individuals already in the city's systems — those who have sought services and therefore were clearly here before the pandemic began — would be prioritized for hotel rooms over those who recently arrived.
Photo: Darwin Bell