The city of San Francisco is to immediately lease 8,250 hotel rooms to ensure that the homeless are able to isolate and protect themselves. This is part of the city’s effort to control the spread of COVID-19.

The reason behind the leasing of hotel rooms is to also reduce the stress on the hospitals. This is to provide a safe space for frontline workers who cannot return home to family.

Embassy Hotel in San Francisco(Photo Courtesy: San Francisco Chronicle)

According to a report, about 30,000 empty hotel rooms are present in the city of San Francisco since the tourism business took a hit due to the lockdown.

An emergency ordinance

The Board of Supervisors ordered the leasing under an emergency ordinance on Tuesday. The ordinance was passed unanimously and states that the city is to acquire all these rooms by April 26.

The city had put into place shelter-in-place orders since the 17th of March, but the homeless have been exempted from this. As the homeless are the most vulnerable at times like these, the rooms would be of great help.

The costs and distribution

The ordinance consists of a total cost of $105 million with the estimate being that a room on average would cost $200 per night. The cost would include the charges of cleaning, security and other services.

The city’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the cost of the ordinance at $58.6 million per month.

The lease with the hotels will last a total of 90 days. The ordinance also reserves about 750 rooms to first responders and medical workers. Another 500 rooms are to be put aside for the general public while in the post-treatment quarantine.

The emergency ordinance passed by the city council dictates that any homeless individual who can care for themselves shall be immediately placed into a hotel room.


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