California’s largest shelter outbreak: A case of government malfeasance

Doctors, public health experts call for testing and housing all shelter residents in hotels 

Yesterday, California experienced its most widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in any homeless shelter to date where nearly half of 144 shelter residents tested positive. For some perspective, the outbreak in this single shelter of 70 shelter guests comprises 8.5% of all positive cases in San Francisco, which total 857 as of Saturday. 

When looking back on the lead-up to this catastrophe we see a series of policy missteps that got us here. 


Under Pressure, City Shifts Plan for Moscone West

A partial victory, but congregate shelters are still being used to house the majority of homeless people

Less than 24 hours after our story “Mayor Breed Opts for Mass Indoor Camps” broke, the City announced a change of approach for addressing the pandemic in shelters. But don’t be misled by the headlines!

The real change, which is significant, is that the city has abandoned its plan to move shelter residents into the Moscone Center,


Mayor Breed Opts for Mass Indoor Camps

UPDATE: Our coverage of this outrageous plan prompted a shift for the city. Get the latest coverage HERE

A look inside the new Moscone Center congregate “Shelter”

While hundreds of advocates have been desperately contacting Mayor London Breed imploring her to place homeless people in hotel rooms and vacant units, it seems she has her own plan for addressing poverty during the pandemic: opening indoor camps to further concentrate vulnerable people.


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, … READ MORE

Cities Are Moving Unhoused People into Hotel Rooms, San Francisco Isn’t

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has refused to use executive powers to house San Francisco’s 9,000 homeless residents living in the City’s streets and shelters. Under the Mayor’s emergency powers in the Charter and Administrative Code, Breed has the authority to commandeer a portion of the 33,000 vacant hotel rooms to house homeless residents, but has yet to utilize those powers in spite of the dire situation at hand.