The Seneca Hotel, which offers permanent supportive housing for homeless people, has 27 vacant rooms.

1 in 10 SF Housing Units for Homeless Sit Vacant

Nearly one in every 10 of San Francisco’s permanent supportive housing units — earmarked for people experiencing homelessness — is now sitting empty. The number of vacant units has climbed 58% since September and now represents 9.9% of the permanent supportive housing stock.

Love Notes, Care Packages as Film Fest Reflects on Homelessness

At this year’s SF Urban Film Fest, several programs examining homelessness include activities in which participants will be asked to connect with perfect strangers. In one case, they’ll be prompted to write love notes or put together care packages. Multimedia journalist Yesica Prado and Fay Darmawi, the film festival’s founder and executive director, curated the events and discussed on “Civic” how participants might gain new perspectives on homelessness.


SF Nonprofit Reports Mixed Messages About Frontline Worker Vaccine Eligibility

Staff members at the nonprofit service provider Hospitality House have been on the job, in facilities like drop-in centers and working with the public in person, throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Executive Director Joe Wilson told “Civic” he encountered mixed and changing messages when he and his staff tried to determine which of them should get vaccinated, when and how.

The Buena Vista Inn, pictured, has served as one of more than two dozen San Francisco hotels used to shelter homeless people who are over 65 or have health risks.

FEMA to Retroactively Fund All Shelter-in-Place Hotel Costs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will retroactively reimburse states 100% of the cost for shelter-in-place hotels, dating back to January 2020, the White House announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after the Biden administration pledged to fully fund hotels used to house homeless people over 65 or with compromised health going forward. Previously, municipalities were responsible for 25% of the costs.

San Francisco has opened 28 shelter-in-place hotels for people experiencing homelessness including the ornate and historic Hotel Whitcomb, pictured, on Market Street. Altogether, there are more than 2,000 rooms available to shelter in place.

Even as Funding Expands, Hotels May Resist Taking in More Homeless Residents

San Francisco is willing to open more hotel rooms to the homeless but may face roadblocks from hotel owners and service providers who would be needed to staff the sites.

On Monday, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing sent a letter to community organizations outlining a rough plan to address an influx of funds expected from the Biden administration, which said it will fully reimburse local governments the cost of temporarily housing COVID-vulnerable homeless people in hotels. But the city’s letter comes with a caveat.

As part of a program to move beyond emergency housing of homeless people in hotels, San Francisco purchased the Hotel Diva, above left, which has 130 rooms for permanent supportive housing.

Will SF Use New Federal Aid to Finally Solve Homelessness?

A move by President Biden Thursday is being hailed by advocates as an opportunity for San Francisco to place all its homeless residents in hotels for the next eight months.

One day after Biden was inaugurated, his administration announced that the federal government will fully reimburse local governments for the cost of housing people who are homeless and vulnerable to COVID-19 in settings where they have space and separation from others, such as hotel rooms. The order extends until Sept. 30, 2021.

A man sits on the sidewalk with has hands restrained behind him while police officers look on.Four police officers responded to a call in March 2020 about a homeless man in the Castro.

New Emergency Homelessness Response Plan Calls for Elimination of Healthy Streets Operation Center

In an attempt to limit police involvement with emergency calls about homelessness, a city group is proposing eliminating a multimillion-dollar program launched in 2018.

The group, composed of representatives of about two dozen city agencies and non-profits, released a 74-page paper Tuesday outlining its plan, called the Compassionate Alternative Response Team.

Tony Campana washes his face at a water pipe installed by San Francisco in the Tenderloin.

SF to Add Water Outlets in Neighborhoods With Large Homeless Populations

San Francisco plans to expand access to drinking water for people living on the streets by adding permanent taps in three neighborhoods and leaving in place – for now – the temporary taps it installed after COVID-19 hit.

For many homeless residents, water access represents a hurdle between them and a job, a home — even survival. The demand for fresh water has been so great since March that several organizations began buying bottled water for distribution to homeless people at a cost of thousands of dollars.

COVID-19 Cases Spike Among Homeless San Franciscans

Coronavirus cases have soared this month among San Francisco’s homeless population and residents of the city’s single-room-occupancy hotels. The city reported 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among unhoused people from Dec. 1 to Dec. 18, more than in September, October and November combined.