Volunteers from Hotels Not Hospitals spoke at the protest today. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

It was a lively morning at 22nd and Mission streets, where some 50 activists and community members gathered to share tamales and protest the upcoming eviction of 2,400 unhoused San Francisco residents who have been living in hotels during the shelter-in-place order. 

Silvia Viviana stood tall on a stage and listed off a litany of demands, including an “immediate end to street sweeps, the creation of long-term pathways to permanent housing, and an end to subsidies for capitalist real estate moguls.” 

Viviana is a Mission resident who volunteers for Hotels Not Hospitals, a community organization that organized the protest and has been working against displacement since the pandemic began. Viviana says that San Francisco should use eminent domain, the right of a government to use private property for public use, to appropriate empty unused buildings for unhoused San Franciscans. 

“We want to take action and demand an end to all evictions,” Viviana said. 

C.H. Zazueta, a 23-year-old Mission resident, echoed Viviana’s demands, and added that “we must build networks of mutual aid to provide resources to unhoused neighbors.”

The speakers cheered and onlookers waved signs calling for “Housing for People, Not Profits.” 

Volunteers from Hotels Not Hospitals spoke at the protest today. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Many questioned the city’s logic in displacing people from shelter-in-place hotels when coronavirus infections are increasing rapidly.

At present, the city plans to move the first wave of homeless residents out of hotels and into Navigation Centers on Dec. 21. Activists said these centers are already overcrowded. The city has also proposed to provide bus tickets out of San Francisco and housing vouchers to unhoused people. 

Hotels Not Hospitals formed in March in response to the pandemic crisis, and since then it has been raising money to “rent hotel rooms for unsheltered folks using community-donated funds.” 

So far, they have raised enough to house seven people in hotels, according to Evan Owski, a 33-year-old fundraiser and social media manager for the group  At present, the city has 2,306 unhoused residents in hotel rooms. They plan to keep the seven in the hotel rooms indefinitely. The group organized another protest this morning in the Financial District which happened concurrently. 

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Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys working at the intersection of art and politics, and focusing on the stories of individuals to reveal larger themes.

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  1. I mean, it has to be a win-win for everybody involved to keep them housed in hotels, right? It’s not like people are traveling right now. At least the hotels can make a little cash while we find some place permanent for these folks to live.

  2. There is something called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    Grew out of (eventually) something called The Enlightenment.
    It’s the backbone of an organization called Amnesty International.
    it’s mission:
    To Defend Human Rights And Protect Lives Around The World

    Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their property.

    The Port of San Francisco has huge, massive warehouses sitting empty.
    It ain’t a hotel room at The Ritz but could accommodate hundreds of tents.

    Permanent housing?
    The City will soon be pushing a 15 billion dollar budget.
    Cut the crap out and – billions for housing.

    Taking away something I worked my ass off for thru “eminent domain” ain’t happening.
    That’s what they did to our black brethren in the name of being “progressive”.

    That said – I fully support using eminent domain in regards to all the empty unused buildings under the stewardship of The Port of San Francisco.