What is Mayor London Breed’s plan?
That was the recurring query at this afternoon’s virtual press conference hosted by Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton, and Aaron Peskin.
Along with Father Richard Smith of Faith in Action Bay Area and Dr. Michael Snavely of UC San Francisco, the supervisors provided an update on the Emergency Ordinance requiring the acquisition of 8,250 COVID-19 hotel rooms unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors a month ago, and called on the mayor to follow through on that ordinance, or present an alternative solution.
In the month since the Board’s ordinance was passed, limited progress has been made in acquiring more hotel rooms, but also in housing people in the rooms ready for occupancy. Haney said that only 19 more active rooms – rooms ready for occupancy – were added between April 27 to May 5, bringing the total to 2,175 rooms, up from 2,156 rooms in the previous month.
And as of Wednesday, only 926 vulnerable unsheltered individuals had been moved off the street and out of shelters and into these hotel rooms. A month ago, that number was at 621, showing that an average of fewer than 80 people have been moved per week.
Meanwhile, according to Haney, the Department of Homelessness has identified more than 2,200 unhoused people that should be moved into hotels.
And there are almost 700 vacant rooms ready to house new people ready right now, continued Haney, along with an additional 600 designated for frontline workers or people from high-risk communities. But they’re continuing to sit unused. Of all the rooms that the city has on contract and are paying for, not quite half are occupied, he said.
Without shelters and access to certain basic services, more people are forced to congregate on the sidewalks. Haney noted that, in the Tenderloin, which he represents, the number of people sleeping in tents has increased by more than 300 percent.
Ronen acknowledged she had been hearing lots of concerns from constituents about the massive encampments set up throughout the Mission District, “where there is no social distancing, there’s no running water, there are no bathrooms, there’s no regular food delivery, there’s basically no services whatsoever.”
“This is awful, it’s unacceptable, it’s inhumane, and it makes it even more so because we know there are solutions,” said Haney.
Ronen called on Breed to take action. “We are sick of meaningless press releases and cleverly named programs or initiatives that do nothing,” said Ronen. “What we want, and what we are begging you for, is for action, for change, and for results.”
“That’s what we haven’t seen from your administration, that’s what we have offered to make happen ourselves, and you have refused those offers,” she said. “And so we are asking you today, ‘What is your plan?’”