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San Francisco supervisor calls for help to protect homeless population from virus

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “A lot of people don’t have access to masks and PPE. People are walking on the street, going to stores, walking in without masks on,” Matt Haney said.

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney calling for help to protect the vulnerable populations in his district, those who aren’t able to protect themselves from the virus or shelter in place.

He says homelessness has increased in the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhood over the last month.

“This is about protecting people who are in the Tenderloin and SoMa and who are homeless and vulnerable but it’s also about protecting people in our city,” Haney said.

As Haney explains, in order to stop the growing number of coronavirus cases, all populations need to be protected.

Until then, stay at home orders could be prolonged.

“If people here contract the virus and spread it to others, that means you’re going to be staying at home longer. That means everybody’s going to be staying at home longer and everybody’s at greater risk,” Haney said.

But for people in his district, where homelessness floods the streets of the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods, it’s  much harder to shelter in place.

“Ultimately District 6 is one of the more dense areas of San Francisco and so in our downtown communities like SoMa, Civic Center, Tenderloin, the challenges are a bit different because it’s hard for people to keep space from others either because you live in an SRO, you don’t have your own kitchen or bathroom or because you’re trying to walk down the street,” Haney said. 

In addition, many people don’t have access to supplies like face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. 

With help from nonprofits and businesses in the city, Supervisor Haney raised money to hand out supplies across his district.

“We’ve started a huge effort to get masks to everyone who needs one in my district. We’ve raised over $35,000 already and have been distributing thousands of masks,” Haney said. 

While help slowly makes its way to these lower-income neighborhoods…

“We have started to see more streets get shut down so that people have more room to walk. We’ve seen more education and outreach in the neighborhood. A lot more signage. More masks are being made available to people,” Haney said. 

Supervisor Haney says it’s not enough to keep these vulnerable populations protected.

“Unfortunately what we’re not seeing movement on is homelessness, getting people off the streets. There are more people in District 6 streets than there were a month ago which is dangerous to everyone,” Haney said. 

To help protect these populations from the virus and therefore everyone else in the city, Supervisor Haney says there needs to be more bathrooms, more hand washing stations and more solutions to house the homeless.

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