Coronavirus: SF to Provide Quarantine Locations for Homeless Residents

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In a statement, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the move is an effort to provide quarantine locations for people who may not have access to homes where they can self-isolate. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco will provide RVs, vacant apartments and hotel rooms for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have come into contact with someone who has, but don't have a place where they can self-isolate and recuperate.

The move is an effort to proactively provide recovery and quarantine locations for people who are experiencing homelessness or live in group homes, shelters or residential hotels, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 14 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in San Francisco.

“Our top priority is public health and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Breed said. “It’s important that we take measures like this to care for our most vulnerable residents, including people who are homeless.”

Low-income people and people experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, city public health officials said, because they are more likely to have underlying conditions that could further exacerbate the illness.

The city now has 30 RVs staged at the Presidio said Francis Zamora, a spokesman for the city's Department of Emergency Management. The department hasn't yet decided where it will park those trailers when they are ready to be used.

San Francisco is staging 30 RVs at the Presidio in case it needs to use them to isolate individuals with COVID-19 who don’t have places to self-isolate, including people experiencing homelessness, people who live in residential hotels or those who live in group homes.
San Francisco is staging 30 RVs at the Presidio in case it needs to use them to isolate individuals with COVID-19 who don’t have places to self-isolate, including people experiencing homelessness, people who live in residential hotels or those who live in group homes. (Erin Baldassari/KQED)

So far, none of the 14 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are homeless, Zamora said. The RVs are there just in case the city needs to use them, he said.

The city has already recommended canceling large gatherings, is encouraging telecommuting and is telling people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions to stay home as much as possible.

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Jennifer Friedenbach, director of San Francisco's Coalition on Homelessness, said she was pleased to see the city protecting its most vulnerable residents. But she said city officials should be thinking of them all year round – not just when there is a public health emergency.

"It really begs the question as to why we don't consider this an emergency all the time," she said.

On Monday, Breed’s office allocated $5 million to expand cleaning services in shelters, homeless resource centers and residential hotels. It will also use the money to provide meals and expand shelter hours for any shelters that do not already operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday also announced a legislative package to help support residents and businesses through the outbreak, including proposals that would suspend certain evictions and ask banks to halt foreclosures on small businesses.

“We know this is going to be a trying time for everyone, and we need to make sure people aren’t losing their homes during this state of emergency,” said Supervisor Dean Preston in a statement. “There is never a good time for people to be displaced, but this is a particularly bad time for anyone to be forced out of their home."

The city expects to spend nearly $450,000 to rent the RVs through June.

This story has been updated.