Although we are currently facing the worst surge in COVID-19 cases we’ve seen, the city is planning to evict nearly 2,000 people from the Shelter in Place hotels set up to house some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. On Wednesday, December 9th the Budget and Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors will discuss the proposed closures. New legislation, authored by Supervisor Haney, will also be heard which would require that the hotels stay open until residents have been provided adequate housing.
The majority of SIP hotel residents are seniors and people with disabilities, and approximately 40%, are African-American, all populations who are disproportionately at increased risk for fatality from the virus. Threatening closure is an act of ageism, ableism, and racism, whether or not that is the intention. We have to act now to make sure that our city does not evict residents from these hotels without a plan to ensure safe, stable housing for all of them.
SF is at risk of running out of hospital beds and COVID cases are increasing. It is dangerous to do anything that means more people will be hospitalized. People currently in hotels are having their chronic health conditions improving because of consistent care. If they are evicted many more are likely to wind up in the emergency department and overload hospitals. Keeping the hotels open is the humane, sensible, and fiscally prudent thing to do. Every dollar we spend is tripled by the federal government. Putting people out on the streets costs over $40k per person per year in emergency room costs alone.
City staff claim that people will not be evicted without a plan. However, housing officials are relying on short term rental assistance that will likely mean a return to the streets. No one should be evicted from a hotel unless they are provided with PERMANENT, affordable housing.
See this SF Public Press article “Closure of S.F. Shelter-in-Place Hotel Program Could Push Homeless Back to Streets” for an in-depth exploration of the issue.