Press Release: Fundraiser Launched to Place Homeless in Hotels
Twenty four hours after launching a pilot program to meet the urgent need of acquiring hotel rooms for homeless people, Supervisor Dean Preston’s GoFundMe has raised almost $50,000 in community donations. Preston kick-started this program on Tuesday night at the Oasis Hotel in partnership with Providence Foundation after concluding that the city’s response was moving far too slowly at a time when every hour matters.
The public has rushed to help with donations from $5 to $10,000 and the GoFundMeLink (gf.me/u/xsngc2) has been shared hundreds of times with avid support. Over 200 donors have contributed. So successful in its first 24 hours, the goal of the GoFundMe has been increased by $25,000 to house even more people until the city takes this on.
“The outpouring of support on this has been inspiring,” said Supervisor Preston. “People want to help their neighbors — housed and unhoused — and the best of San Franciscans is on display in this moment of crisis. The Mayor’s Administration needs to step up the urgency and match this generosity with action before it’s too late.”
This issue came to a head at a recent March Board of Supervisors meeting. The plan laid out by the Human Services Administration’s director Trent Roher was to offer no hotel rooms to vulnerable populations in shelters, navigation centers, and those living on the streets, but instead simply expand congregate living situations. This despite an estimated 30,000 hotel rooms sitting vacant across the City. It is virtually impossible to observe safe social distancing in a congregate living environment, and private rooms are far preferable to prevent spread of disease, a point made unambiguously by the City’s official Health Officer, Tomas Aragon. “Everyone is sacrificing so much financially, medically, and emotionally right now with a totally necessary shelter in place order,” said Preston, but these efforts will be greatly diminished if we continue to overlook thousands of people living in shelters, navigation centers and encampments.”
Thanks to advocacy led by Supervisors Preston, Peskin, Haney, Ronen, and Walton, the Administration’s position has shifted over the last week, but remains totally inadequate. The Mayor’s office has now confirmed that it plans to acquire 900 hotel rooms for vulnerable populations in shelters and navigation centers, as well as for first responders and Laguna Honda residents, but no timeline or specifics have been provided. As of yesterday, the City has only acquired 300 rooms, all of which are being reserved for quarantining patients exiting the hospital.
As San Francisco waits for the City to scale up their reported effort to acquire hotel rooms, private citizens are doing what they can to protect themselves and their neighbors by donating to Preston’s cause. Though residents are willing to help during this dire time, many asked on social media when the city will take over the project and take the burden off residents who are already being stretched thin.
“Every minute counts here,” said Preston. “We’re not going to wait while the City delays getting hotel rooms for those who are homeless. It’s time to think big, get thousands more hotel rooms than the city is planning, and launch a voucher program so homeless service providers can put everyone capable of self care into an appropriate private hotel room. No more excuses: let’s get this done to protect everyone’s health.”
Preston’s office worked closely with Patricia Doyle, Director of Providence, and the hotel owner, Naresh Dhadhal, and applauded their proactive work at the cutting edge of solving this crisis. Currently 31 people — most over 60 or with underlying health issues — have moved from a family shelter and a woman’s shelter, both in District 5, to the hotel for temporary housing under this pilot project.
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Categories: Press Release