San Francisco has set up a sanctioned outdoor encampment with dozens tents spaced out to house the city’s vagrants during the coronavirus outbreak.
The tents were set up last week in a parking lot between the city’s art museum and library — and just steps away from San Francisco City Hall.
“So while in normal times I would say that we should focus on bringing people inside and not sanctioning tent encampments, we frankly do not have many other options right now,” tweeted San Fran Mayor London Breed.
“Having places with resources serving people in the neighborhood is better than unsanctioned encampments.”
But the move has done little to appease homeless advocates, who argue that officials should have moved to shelter the homeless long ago — and who point to the thousands of hotel rooms that are sitting empty.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that this is here,” Brian Edwards, an advocate with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, told Vice News. “But when I said I wanted to sanction encampments this year, I wasn’t thinking in the middle of a f–king pandemic when people should be in hotel rooms.”
The city’s Board of Supervisors asked that the city lease 7,000 hotel rooms for the homeless by the end of last month, but Breed called the timetable unrealistic.
Breed said in a Twitter post that 1,000 homeless people had been moved from shelters into hotel rooms, but said “the logistical challenges of this are immense,” hence the need for the tent city.
Officials have also set up a sanctioned encampment in the city of Santa Rosa’s encampment, which is expected to house 140 people by the end of the week, and is being overseen by Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat said.
“The only reason we’re doing this is in response to our health emergency,” Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm said.
There are an estimated 3,000 homeless people living in Santa Rosa and the surrounding region, VICE said.