A derelict handwashing station sits unused on Florida Street. Photo by Sam Lew

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved emergency legislation that requires the city to provide more public toilets and handwashing stations throughout the city to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney described it as a “basic human right” that everyone in the city who is either experiencing homelessness or simply needs access to bathrooms should have access to one, especially during the state of emergency.

Of the 24 “Pit Stop” restrooms around the city that were available prior to the shelter-in-place order, only three were open for 24 hours. Since the shelter-in-place order commenced, an additional 15 Pit Stops were made available and are open 24 hours a day.

Wesley Saver, policy manager at GLIDE, a social service provider in the Tenderloin, estimated that the city needs “approximately 65 additional restrooms” to service over 5,100 homeless individuals.

Saver said that although the city is under orders to comply and provide residents with resources to practice social distancing protocols and hand sanitizing, “it does not go so far as to mandate the provision of bathrooms and handwashing stations.”

Haney said that this legislation changes that.

It requires one bathroom for every 50 unsheltered individuals. They must  be within 1,000 feet of an encampment and open 24 hours a day at “areas with the greatest need,” said Haney. He mentioned that the legislation would create at least 49 bathroom pit stops available throughout the city. Currently, there are 25.

The Board of Supervisors also unanimously passed resolutions urging the city to expand support to non-profit essential workers; and add additional testing sites and clinics in areas most affected by COVID-19. Other measures included a resolution to make Vote-By-Mail (VBM) available to all residents and one urging federal legislators to pass a law canceling rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic.

A resolution to provide incentive pay and free COVID-19 testing to the city’s non-profit homeless service workers cites that “the vast majority” of them“earn between $16.50 and $24.00 per hour,” which is “well below the local median wage.”

According to the resolution, the Human Services Agency (HSA) called for “urgent staffing” to address the city’s emergency operations at hotels, congregate locations, and more alternative housing sites. Although HSA already promised to pay disaster service workers at a rate of $24 per hour, the resolution encourages city departments to provide more financial incentives.

It also requires the city to provide free COVID-19 testing for all non-profit service workers, which should already be covered by the universal free testing for all essential workers throughout the city that was announced on Monday.

Essential workers may register to get tested through the CityTestSF website or by calling 311 before going to any testing location.

The Board of Supervisors also unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Department of Public Health to set up pop-up testing sites and additional field-care clinics in zip codes with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. It also recommends for expansion of outreach and testing within congregate settings and for placement of “homeless people who are capable of caring for themselves in hotels to prevent further transmission in an already vulnerable population living on the streets.”

The resolution will go to the Department of Public Health for consideration.

A resolution urging Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla to implement statewide election reforms for the upcoming presidential election in November, specifically to provide Vote-By-Mail (VBM) ballots for every registered voter, was co-sponsored and voted to be adopted by all 11 supervisors in today’s board meeting.

“A majority of Californians already securely use VBM, and no one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” wrote Christina E. Fletes-Romo and Brittany Stonesifer, both voting rights attorneys from ACLU Northern California, in support of the resolution.

Supervisors also unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020, authored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

That Board of Supervisors will now send the passed resolution to Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, urging them to support the federal legislation.

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  1. Dear Mr. Haney, Thank you for all you have been trying to do. However, we need legislation drawn up and passed that will guarantee that every person no matter their income will only pay 30% of their income for rent across the board. This will place all of our citizens on the same level where all can afford to pay rent and have homes. We need more homes for our vets and seniors. This will clean up the street and provide the very low esteem person with a since of personal dignity improving their since of personal value. Put belly trash cans everywhere ensuring cleaner streets throughout our city. We should be proud we live and not ashamed as many of us are now. We should be proud of our leaders we elected. Instead, there is disappointment. Let’s turn it around. I hope this helps.

  2. So proud and so fortunate to live in California and especially San Francisco. Thank you to our local and state government and to Mission Local!