Who says SF hotels can’t make money these days? The still-shuttered mid-Market Hotel Whitcomb was just awarded $19.5 million in a damage settlement over the facility’s use as a shelter-in-place hotel.
San Francisco’s shelter-in-place hotel program was widely hailed as a success, at one point housing nearly 2,300 homeless people in 25 different hotels across the city. And it was mostly paid for by the state’s Project Roomkey program, it kept hospitality workers employed, and played a critical role in San Francisco having a remarkably low COVID mortality rate. But the program created some unexpected bills for the City and County of San Francisco, as several hotel owners sued the city for damages incurred by having the transient populations in their facilities.
In March, the city settled for $2.9 million with Hotel Tilden for such damages. And the Hotel Union Square got a $5.3 million settlement. But on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an unprecedented $19.3 million settlement for Hotel Whitcomb at Market and Eighth streets.
The settlement was approved unanimously and with no discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting. They also approved a $3.8 million damage settlement for the Good Hotel (7th and Mission), and $245,000 for the Nob Hill Hotel at the same meeting.
But obviously this $19.3 million settlement for Hotel Whitcomb stands out like a sore thumb. The SF Standard points out the sum is “by far the largest of the damage claims,” and that overall settlements total “roughly $44.5 million.” It’s not clear why Hotel Whitcomb had such larger damages than other hotels, but KQED reported in May 2022 that 18 people had overdosed at that hotel during the shelter-in-place program.
According to its website, “The Hotel Whitcomb is closed until further notice.”
Through the city may get fully reimbursed for all of these settlements. A separate KQED report from early June notes that “The city is expecting reimbursements for costs of implementing the emergency housing program, and has already filed for $386 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” It is yet to be determined how much the city will be awarded.
Image: Joanne T. via Yelp