Protesters from POOR magazine, a publication and activist organization, attempted to occupy the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown San Francisco in May to demand the city house more homeless residents in the thousands of hotel rooms left vacant during the coronavirus pandemic. City supervisors voted to expand the hotel room shelter program this week.

City Extends Shelter-in-Place Hotel Program

The city will house more people in hotel rooms than it had planned thanks to a law the Board of Supervisors passed unanimously Tuesday.

The legislation, drafted by Supervisor Matt Haney, establishes an emergency ordinance that requires the city to continue its practice of housing homeless people in hotel rooms while COVID-19 remains a risk. Emergency ordinances are used to rapidly respond to crises such as pandemics, and last 60 days.

During the pandemic, San Francisco has housed about 2,200 homeless residents in shelter-in-place hotels, including the Buena Vista Inn at Lombard and Gough streets.

Supervisors Divided on Plan to Extend Shelter-in-Place Hotels

Some city supervisors are pushing to continue using hotel rooms occupied by vulnerable homeless residents during the pandemic for a second cohort after current room residents are moved into other housing. Proponents say that despite a possible loss of federal emergency funds, discontinuing the program too soon would leave thousands unsheltered during the health emergency.

Stephanie, 57, lost her housing two years ago and was sleeping in a tent in the Tenderloin as of June. Like all the unhoused people photographed here, she was eventually relocated to a shelter-in-place hotel room. Close to half the residents of those hotel rooms are African American, according to an assessment by the city that only covered about half the hotel population.

Shelter-in-Place Hotel Wind-Down Plan Lacks Adequate Data, Strategy on Race

Though roughly three-fourths of the assessed residents of San Francisco’s shelter-in-place hotels are minorities, the city has no plan to assure that those people get safe landing spots in proportion to their race as it prepares to wind down the program.

Of particular concern for advocates is the priority list used to determine how to allocate housing to those experiencing homelessness. This system, called coordinated entry, does not take into account race when determining who is most in need of housing, despite the predominance of African Americans among hotel residents, service providers say.

Some Mission District residents have been encouraged to put post-it notes in their windows to signify their interest in joining neighborhood meetings with police.

Police Pushing Amazon Surveillance Cameras for Mission District Residents

A new collaboration between residents and the San Francisco Police Department to address crime and homelessness may result in an increase in surveillance cameras — specifically, Amazon’s controversial Ring products.

The collaborations have emerged after residents reached out to Mission Station for assistance in managing tents, drug use and trash on their streets.

The Adante Hotel is currently operating as a shelter-in-place hotel run by Five Keys. San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing plans to end the shelter-in-place hotel program, but that process was paused in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Workers in Shelter-in-Place Hotels Face Unemployment, Uncertain Future

As the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing scrambles to find placements for the more than 2,300 residents of its shelter-in-place hotels, little attention has been paid to the people who work at those sites. Nonprofit organizations that run the hotels are working diligently not just to identify exits for residents, but to keep their staff, many of whom have worked at these nonprofits for decades. When COVID-19 hit, San Francisco closed its shelters and navigation centers to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. Many residents from those facilities were relocated to shelter-in-place hotels — and the shelter staff went with them. But now that the city has declared that the hotels must close, and with shelters operating at a fraction of their original capacity, there’s nowhere for staff to go.

Homeless advocates have pressed San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to keep eviction protections for shelter residents, in fear that without them, many will end up on the streets.

City Reverses Shelter Eviction Policy, Extends Protections to Hotel Residents

San Francisco officials said they intend to reverse a policy change that would have left homeless shelter residents with fewer protections from eviction than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The policy would have eliminated decades-old rules and endangered the rights of shelter residents and unhoused people citywide, increasing their risk of being pushed onto the street amid a coronavirus surge, advocates said.

On Wednesday, one day before advocates prepared to hold a protest initially billed as a “die-in” outside the Moscone Center South homeless shelter, the city reversed its decision.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party state convention at Moscone Center.

City Encourages Corporate Homeless Sweeps by Failing to Condemn Them, Critics Charge

Mayor London Breed’s apparent toleration of an unsanctioned homeless encampment “sweep” by a corporate event company this month has led her critics to ask whether the policy of City Hall is to turn a blind eye to privatized harassment of people living on the streets. The sweep, which occurred just past midnight on the morning of Sept. 10 outside the old Honda dealership on 12th Street, resulted in the disposal of eight people’s belongings. Neither the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing nor the mayor’s office clearly rebuked the actions of the event company, Non Plus Ultra.

TechCrunch rented this event space on Market Street to stage its annual Disrupt conference.

TechCrunch Breaks With Event Company Over Homeless Sweep

An unsanctioned sweep of a homeless encampment in central San Francisco has cost the event company Non Plus Ultra a big customer. The company rousted eight people in the middle of the night on Sept. 10, and – while city officials have largely remained silent – the action didn’t sit well with TechCrunch, which is renting Non Plus Ultra’s SVN West event space at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue.