So far, unhoused people under 65 have not been prioritized in California. Drawing by Miles Chandler. Uploaded Feb. 25, 2021.

Despite critics who say that the city is moving too quickly to shut down the hotels where unhoused residents have been sheltered during the pandemic, four more hotels will shutter over the next two months, according to Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing plans shared with providers. 

Beginning on Feb. 10, four shelter-in-place (SIP) hotels will close as a part of a long term plan to phase out the remaining hotels by September. While the total guests at these hotels have not been confirmed, hotel data suggest these four closures will affect approximately 300 guests. Overall, 1,200 guests live in 1,110 rooms at present, city data shows. 

Joe Wilson, the executive director of community organization Hospitality House, said that the community understands the hotels were meant to be temporary, but the city’s other housing options aren’t yet sufficient to house all of the transitioning guests. “By everyone’s estimation, we have not done that sufficiently enough to be embarking on phase-out at this time,” Wilson said.  

Homelessness is a chronic problem in San Francisco; the 2019 point-in-time street and shelter count estimates more than 8,000 people live on San Francisco’s streets. 

The Adante Hotel on Geary Street and the Executive Hotel Vintage Court on Bush Street will close in February, and the Nob Hill Hotel on Hyde Street and Best Western Red Coach Inn on Eddy Street will close in March. 

Using the SIP hotel site numbers provided in the internal meeting plans, Mission Local corroborated the hotel information using a public records request originally filed by @journo_anon. The Homelessness Department did not comment on these specific site closures.

In April, 2020, the city launched the hotel program to shelter the unhoused during the pandemic. Unhoused “guests” received individual hotel rooms and numerous services, like food, laundry, security and wellness checks. The private hotel rooms appeared to be a safer alternative to homeless shelters which, like other large, indoor settings, could become a breeding ground for Covid-19. The program also mitigated shelters’ decreased pandemic capacity.

At the program’s height, 25 hotels were involved, housing more than 3,700 guests, according to the Homelessness Department at an October, 2021, hearing. 

“We have had homeless people for almost one and a half years now,” said the Adante Hotel’s front-desk staff Pramod, who confirmed roughly 92 unhoused guests are staying in the hotel until it closes in mid-February. “It’s been pretty good.”

The cost, Homelessness Department director Shireen McSpadden said at the October meeting, means the hotel program plans on winding down. It costs $7,000 to run one hotel room a month, but $2,000 per month per tenant for permanent supportive housing. So, as of that October meeting, seven hotels closed and two more said they would cease operations in December, 2021. Every resident would be offered a chance at permanent supportive housing or transferred to another hotel. 

By January, 2022, about 2,553 guests “exited” the hotels, city data shows, although no specifics to how they exited were shared. According to the webpage, future dashboards will show “where guests exited to.” Public records sent to @@journo_anon and reviewed by Mission Local suggest residents rent housing, transfer to another hotel site or go to transitional homes. About 900 guests found alternative housing. 

The Homeless Department pledged last October to extend the program until September, 2022, which would cost $46 million in federal funds and $21 million in local money. Project Room Key, a federally funded hotel program run in the state, will also supplement the SIP program’s extension through June. 

“As it stands now, we still won’t be able to house everyone out of SIP hotels by the time federal funding ends. By sticking to the timeline, the City will only need to fund SIP Hotels on its own for about 5 months,” said a statement from the Homelessness Department to Mission Local. “Any pause in demobilization means more city funds will need to be used after federal funding ends.”

The department added that part of the extra federal funds given to the city in April “gave us the opportunity to invest other resources that would have been used to operate the SIP hotels during the first quarter of 2022 for alternative purposes — including opening a temporary non-congregate winter shelter.”

Still, nearly two years after the program’s launch, homeless advocates criticized the city’s decision to shut down the hotels. A 2021 report from the advocacy group the Coalition on Homelessness suggests that the unhoused accepted hotel rooms much more frequently than traditional housing options like shelters, perhaps in part because the privacy allows residents to bring personal belongings normally barred at shelters, and allows them to avoid violence or sexual assault that may potentially occur in congregate shelters. 

As hotels phase out, the Homelessness Department has a goal of rehousing between 30 to 40 hotel residents per week, specifically to permanent options, according to the October meeting. However at the time, more than 1,000 permanent supportive housing units remained vacant, with roughly 700 deemed ready to be move-in. 

Of the 915 people rehoused from the hotel program, 639 got placed in permanent supportive housing, according to the Homelessness Department’s January plans. The city purchased other sites to be converted as permanent housing using state dollars, including the Diva Hotel, an Outer Mission motel, a SoMa student housing apartment, and a Mission SRO, the Chronicle reported, amounting to more than 300 units. Plans to purchase a Hayes Valley hotel could include more than 70 extra permanent units. 

But advocates like Wilson believe the city can do more. He said before the city shuts down the hotels “precipitously in advance,” we should look at other possible sources of funding — the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget proposal is one potential option. 

“Let’s bring our best minds and best thinking to bear to solve this problem,” Wilson said. “At this point we have a once in a generation opportunity with resources at multiple levels — federal, state, and local, with Prop. C funds – that we can maximize housing investments.”

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Follow Us

REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. The city gives too much and doesn’t require anything back from the homeless population.
    Help them but ask something back .
    Our tax payer money going to trash .

    1. I understand your comment but don’t think you understand the plight of these people. Most are disabled, physically and mentally. Some are homeless but still active tax payers and due to miscellaneous occurrences, have ended up homeless. There are even some who work but aren’t able to save up the move in costs because of the pandemic along with the rising costs of day to day living. Some just need the help getting back up. So what do you feel a person that has lost everything should give back? To the city they’ve paid into for as long as they’ve been able but has fallen and is too old or sick to get back up? I’m sure they’re open to suggestions the same as they are to the help. Try to judge less and have more compassion. The homeless have all come from different walks of life and have probably lost all hope. Try giving someone hope from the goodness of your heart. I’m sure that your quality of life will be improved upon… Hugs 🤗

    2. what would u have me give back to the city? I was born here graduated then off to the USN then worked in the wireless services and as a trainer with 24 hour fitness . Then was a victim in a hit n run motorcycle accident , ICU TBI IBS has made it near impossible to do much of anything. See I would love to go back in time and not have had to be crushed , I wish I was normal again , but I get it . Your thoughts are heard with out having to spell it out. Dead. right ? if not contributing only consuming why be here, I caught covid twice somewhat hoping it would be a way to ease your pain of having the homeless not giving back , sorry to bring disappointment again into your life. damn these homeless creatures

  2. “Guests”

    Shut them all down. Costs the city working class to damn much $$. I’m 3 generation Bayview and we work out here. The city spends all ours money of the homeless. Give them everything for free.

  3. Simple math: If it costs $7000/room/month, that’s $233/day in costs assuming ONE HUNDRED PERCENT occupancy. If this is the case no hotel in existence would stay in business. This is total gaslighting from these hotel operators who made hand over fist through this program through the pandemic.

Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published.