San Francisco has canceled plans to move hundreds of homeless people to a large indoor space in a convention center after 70 people at a shelter tested positive for coronavirus. It will move homeless people to hotels instead — or leave them in tents.
The Daily Mail reported Saturday:
In the biggest outbreak at a homeless shelter in California to date, San Francisco’s mayor announced Friday that 70 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, infuriating advocates who had sought more aggressive action to protect homeless people.
Mayor London Breed said that the outbreak involving 68 residents and two shelter staff was expected.
‘We knew that those had the potential of being hot spots, so we have been preparing for that,’ Breed said of the homeless shelters. ‘We were on top of it.’
The news angered homeless advocates and members of the Board of Supervisors who have been pleading with her administration to commandeer empty hotel rooms and quickly move homeless people from streets and shelters into them.
Mayor Breed, like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has been trying to move homeless people off the streets in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. However, not all accommodations are alike.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines warn that it may be easier to maintain “social distancing” outdoors than in an indoor “congregate” setting. Unless individual housing units are available, the CDC warns, moving the homeless indoors could be counterproductive.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that there had been more than a dozen coronavirus cases in the city’s single-room “residential” hotels, where occupants share common living areas.
As a result of the wave of infections, the Daily Mail reported, “the city scrapped plans to turn part of its convention shelter into a shelter with nearly 400 beds for homeless people, saying the set-up was too crowded.”
Advocates for the homeless want San Francisco to move more homeless people into hotel rooms, many of which are empty — much as New York City plans to do with 6,000 homeless people.
San Francisco is also allowing outdoor tents — once viewed purely as a nuisance — to remain in place, at least for the duration of the pandemic, because it is easier to maintain “social distancing” and the virus is harder to transmit outdoors.
Los Angeles is also looking for space in hotels and motels for the homeless, but Mayor Garcetti is also moving thousands of homeless people into recreation centers in residential neighborhoods that have been converted into temporary shelters — a move the has proven controversial.
Last week, a local resident filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking to block Garcetti’s homeless relocation program, which was announced last month as an emergency measure with little or no input from local residents.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told Breitbart News last month that building large outdoor tent cities on public land to treat and shelter the homeless would be preferable over indoor shelters or informal encampments outside.
It is unclear whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently considering such plans, though they were reportedly under consideration last year, after President Donald Trump said he might intervene to solve California’s homeless problem, which is the worst in the U.S. and accounts entirely for the national increase in homelessness as of 2019.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.