SAN FRANCISCO’S SIP HOTELS: WHAT’S NEXT?

As part of the City’s COVID response, San Francisco is currently housing approximately 2,300 guests in temporary Shelter in Place (SIP) hotels. As an early public health disaster measure, the most COVID vulnerable people experiencing homelessness were offered a safe space to shelter in place in what grew to be 25 SIP hotels. As we move from response to recovery, I have been both inspired and humbled by the deeply passionate responses from our nonprofit Provider Partners, community members, SIP guests and the Board of Supervisors regarding the question, “what comes next?” HSH response timeline

I want to acknowledge that San Francisco has shown the nation what a compassionate data driven approach can be for people experiencing homelessness and as a result lives have been saved. COVID rates for people experiencing homelessness are the same as the general population. Which cannot be said for other communities.

With that said, people experiencing homelessness began this pandemic in crisis and the fear, uncertainty and basic health risk for them is immense. We continue to strive; we continue as a community with our nonprofit partners and our city partners to do more and do better. And those serving the homeless community have stretched and taken personal and professional risks every day. The City is deeply grateful to these heroes.

So, establishing again that we are committed to the housing stability of our SIP guests and are working closely with providers and guests to ensure that when people leave the hotels they are going to a home and not the streets. And coordinated entry is a critical component of this and allows us to understand who is the most vulnerable, who has the most barriers to housing. Who, without long-term intervention, would not be able to achieve stability.

In a focus group conducted by HSH nonprofit partner Miracle Friends, we heard that most, but not all guests, knew SIP hotels were a temporary disaster measure from the start of their stay. Guests expressed a general message of gratitude for being kept safe from the pandemic and acknowledge feeling “lucky” to have the room. Some guests felt isolated and increased uncertainty from rumor and misinformation.

We are committed to continuing to partner closely with the COVID-19 Command Center to improve communication to and within the SIP hotels to create understanding about the plan and timelines. We are working closely with providers to improve data quality and timely reporting. We are now using data from the Department of Public Health to support prioritization which did not exist when the original plan was developed.

Based on these new learnings, we have revised the proposal which was shared with the Board of Supervisors and partners earlier this month. It is now a publicly available document that incorporates our early learnings in this process and the feedback received.

We need to acknowledge the uncertainty of the pandemic and that our plans may shift to respond to changing circumstances of the pandemic and we will continue to re-evaluate because of the pandemic.

We are committed to rehousing people currently in the SIP hotels. Anyone saying otherwise is acting irresponsibly and causing unnecessary confusion and suffering. The City’s proposal is public and transparent. Please learn our long-term plans to get all the people living in SIP Hotels into housing, by reading our full plan here: SIP Rehousing & Site Demobilization Proposal

Thank you, San Franciscans, for your humanity and the care and concern this community continues to express for people experiencing homelessness.

~ASK

Mosaic made by PSH residents of their building
Abigail Stewart-Kahn, Interim Director of San Francisco’s Dept. of Homelessness & Supportive Housing

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing strives to make homelessness in San Francisco rare, brief, and one time.

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