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New ordinance introduced to prevent spread of COVID-19 among homeless population in San Francisco

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – There are now three diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in homeless shelters in San Francisco and the city Board of Supervisors hasn’t been pleased with the response of the mayor’s office. 

After calling for action from San Francisco Mayor London Breed, on Tuesday the city Board of Supervisors introduced new emergency legislation aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless population.

“As of today, zero unhoused people living in congregate settings have been moved by the administration into rooms before they get sick or exposed to COVID-19,” Dean Preston said. 

The proposed ordinance would mandate that the city secure 8,250 hotel rooms, 750 for frontline workers, 500 for medical quarantine, and 7,000 for those currently in group shelters or living on the streets by a set deadline of April 26th.

“All we’re asking is that the city fulfill promises of providing hotel rooms for our most vulnerable populations,” Shamann Walton said. 

Mayor Breed said last week that the city could only provide hotel rooms for those in shelters who were exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus or had tested positive. 

Since then, members of the Board of Supervisors talked to some unhoused people in their districts. 

“They all begged for hotel rooms, they said they’d go immediately, they said they could take care of themselves, and not only that, they offered to help take care of others. Why, why has it taken five weeks to get people inside of 30,000 empty hotel rooms,” Hillary Ronen said. 

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office told KRON4 the following: 

“We are moving forward with getting our vulnerable residents into hotel rooms, and prioritizing public health in all of our decision-making for those living in congregate settings. The city is moving at an unprecedented pace under crisis circumstances, and we will continue to adapt to meet this challenge as it evolves.”

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