The mayor’s Medium post vaguely decries “what some people have been saying” and “a number of inaccurate statements” after the Board of Supervisors' unanimous vote to extend the shelter-in-place hotel program.
Mayor London Breed is probably the most prolific Medium post author of anyone at City Hall, and she uses the platform to pretty good effect. This is a far cry from her 2013-era Twitter insult comedy stylings when she was a District 5 supervisor, which prompted this publication to nickname her the Amanda Bynes of SF Supervisors for zingers like "if you pay my salary, I want a raise to listen to your bullshit." In contrast, the mayor’s Medium posts are thoughtful, professional, and more succinct than most founder types and armchair COVID-19 data modelers who typically populate that platform.
Over the coming months, San Francisco will transition over 2,000 people currently living in Shelter in Place hotels to other housing placements.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) December 16, 2020
This is a complicated operation and we need to get it right.
Misinformation about the plan isn't helpful.https://t.co/Gnu4WbtjXK
But her Wednesday Medium post Setting the Record Straight: Hotels to Housing is unusually passive-aggressive and cryptic. Breed complains about “a number of inaccurate statements” and ”what some people have been saying,” with no further explanation. So we got out our shade-and-tea decoder ring to try to figure out whomst the heck the mayor means by “some people.”
In terms of the shelter-in-place hotel program for unsheltered people that was slated to wind down, the mayor posted that “Despite what some people have been saying publicly, no one is being ‘evicted’ from the hotels and sent back to the streets, and it is irresponsible for people to throw that term around so loosely.” She adds in bold, underlined font that “We are transitioning the hotel program over a period of months precisely so that we can connect all of the residents in hotels with housing placements.”
At Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting, the supes extended that program 60 days, but none of them used the word “evict.” According to the meeting minutes (which have a few transcription errors but are generally quite accurate), Sup. Shamann Walton said it’s “important to make sure folks experiencing homelessness do not go back to the streets,” and Sup. Hillary Ronen referred to not wanting to put people “back out on to the streets,” but no supervisors used the ‘e’ word. A couple public commenters did, and of course people are saying that on Twitter, but you’re going to have that no matter what.
[NEW] In my first #housing story for @USATODAY we took a deep dive into how cities across the U.S., has been housing people experiencing #homelessness in motel and hotels with money officials received from the #CARES Act.https://t.co/hF4EvbnAQw— Romina Ruiz-Goiriena (@RominaAdi) December 15, 2020
Breed’s ire may be directed at Tuesday’s USA Today article with the headline “'We're not wanted': Homeless people were put in hotels to keep them safe. Now they're being evicted.” That piece describes several cities’ situations, San Francisco among them, so you can see why the word “evict” in the headline could create the impression that Breed was accused by a major national publication of evicting people.
But she does seem to be sparring with the supervisors over funding. Her Medium post asserts that “Some individuals continue to say that 98% of the costs are reimbursed by the State and Federal governments — this is simply inaccurate.” She attaches her December 9 letter to FEMA, whom she says is reimbursing only 75% of the cost of the program, asking for clarity on how long these reimbursements will continue. The board seems more optimistic than she is on the funding, with Sup. Aaron Peskin saying, “FEMA is not pulling out any time soon.”
Further, a Nov. 19 Chronicle report asserted that “the program will cost about $198 million, and the city expects federal and state funds to reimburse nearly all of that — about $187 million.” That would work out to a 94% reimbursement rate, and that’s spitting distance from the 98% Breed cited. We found no public record of any supervisors claiming 98% reimbursement.
The shelter-in-place homeless hotels program has been extremely popular and effective. Maybe the mayor and supervisors have disagreements on the technicalities of transitioning out of it, and how much state and federal assistance we can count on. Or maybe they are just angling over who will end up getting the credit for an extremely popular and effective program.
Image: @LondonBreed via Twitter