COVID-19 Weekly Top Shelf Policy Recommendations Coalition on Homelessness | April 1, 2020


The Current Situation: The  City is only placing homeless people being discharged or diverted from SFGH beds who test positive or who are symptomatic into hotel rooms. The city announced today they are prioritizing hotel rooms for vulnerable people on streets, in shelters and in SRO’s but they have not moved any of them into a hotel room.  

What We Want: We are calling on the City to shelter all homeless people and those in congregate settings  into vacant units as a preventative measure, NOT as a reactive measure provided only to those who fall sick. In order to place clients in as efficiently as possible, the city needs to quickly deploy a decentralized access configuration for community based providers to  populate hotel rooms. Homeless service providers are ready to identify, place priority clients into hotels, and are prepared to begin staffing hotels. Providence is already successfully doing so at Oasis Hotel after moving in clients from Bethel A.M.E. and First Friendship. The Mayor and public health officer have the power to immediately commandeer hotel rooms and pay a “fair price” at a later date.

PROTECT PEOPLE IN SHELTER: Deconcentrate and Stabilize Shelters. 

The Current Situation: There are guidelines for providers to handle individuals who test positive for COVID-19, but there are no guidelines as to how the shelter should handle the guests who would have been in contact with them on the same floor or building. 

What We Want: The Department of Public Health should develop a protocol outlining steps for homeless service providers, including how to inform shelter clients, cleaning and sanitation in the facility, and a rapid procedure for all shelter residents to access individual housing units following exposure.

Laguna Honda is a prediction of what may end up happening at some, if not all, of our homeless shelters. In other cities the results of such outbreaks have resulted in (a) 14-day building lockdowns forcing rapid spread of virus and (b) shelter closures where residents leave or are released. In New York City, positive cases in shelters increased by 14x within a week. In order to prevent mass outbreaks of the virus within shelters, we should act now and house homeless people in housing immediately. 


The Current Situation: There is no clear way for service providers, homeless people, or the general public to know how many people have the virus, how many PUI, including how many unhoused residents have tested positive, are hospitalized, or have died from COVID-19. This information should be shared alongside ICU bed capacity, hotel bed vacancy and hotel beds filled to date.  

What We Want: Provide a mechanism to report daily homeless cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.


The Current Situation: While there has been a decrease in homeless sweeps, an analysis of 311 calls demonstrates over 58 incidents of encampment removals since March 24th, which are collaborated by reports from frontline service providers and outreach workers. 

What We Want: We call for a public proclamation of a stop to all homeless sweeps including property confiscation, a moratorium on the enforcement of anti-homeless ordinance, and allowing those without housing to shelter-in-place on all public lands. CDC guidelines support an end to encampment clearings unless individual room shelter is offered. 

LEAVE NO ONE HUNGRY: Provide food assistance to shelters, encampments, and quarantined units. 

The Current Situation: Many unsheltered homeless residents are going hungry as nonprofits and  other groups that typically provide meals have limited their hours or shut down completely. 

What We Want: Effectively deliver and provide 3 meals per day for those residing outdoors, in hotel rooms, and in shelter. Doing so will reduce their needs to move about the city acquiring food and resources and in turn reducing the risk of wider community spread.


Surviving in public space already presents a number of individual and public health risks. The city should immediately offer tents, hygiene stations, food, water and other provisions to all of those sheltering-in-place outside. 

PREVENT A SPIKE IN HOMELESSNESS: Ban all evictions and suspend all rent. 

In order to prevent homelessness, the City must ensure that all eviction proceedings are halted and that a rent suspension is implemented. The City should create a financial assistance fund to assist with back rental payment and other debt incurred during the crisis.