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San Francisco works to maneuver homeless out of resorts and into long-term housing

San Francisco workers are moving from pandemic hotels to homeless people

Christien Kafton of KTVU reports.

San Francisco’s shelter-in-place hotel program for its non-accommodating residents is coming to an end.

The city said it is working to ensure those staying in the hotels don’t end up back on the streets.

In April 2020, not long after the COVID pandemic became a looming threat, San Francisco mobilized to evacuate homeless residents from large gathering places. They relocated 3,700 people to 25 accommodations in hotels across the city.

The city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) said the scheme had always been a temporary measure and is now being phased out.

“This program was a FEMA-sponsored emergency response and was always intended to be temporary,” said HSH’s Emily Cohen.

The department said it is working to seize this unique opportunity and has already moved 915 people from accommodation in hotels to longer-term housing solutions.

San Francisco is dissolving hotels for the homeless program

KTVU’s Candese Charles reports.

“As we move through the pandemic, closer to recovery, we are learning more about COVID. We really want to make sure we build on the opportunity that we’ve had over the past 20 months to build on those relationships with people in the SIP hotels and transitioning them into permanent homes,” said Cohen.

Nicole McDonald is in an emergency shelter trying to get out of homelessness. She said she was frustrated that more people weren’t being let in.

“I stay there myself and I see that they don’t let people into the shelters,” McDonald said. “They’re getting more people out of the shelters, they’re telling them there aren’t any beds available.”

The Department for Homelessness and Supportive Housing said the city’s emergency shelters are not yet operating at full capacity. The department said it’s not that easy to refill beds. There must be all-round services for those seeking protection, and with the Omicron variant still posing a threat, security must come first.

“Congregate Shelters continue to play a very important role in responding to the homeless, but we must do so responsibly in the context of COVID,” said Cohen.

The city said it aims to close the last of the Shelter-in-Place hotels by September.

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