Gov. Newsom Pledges To House 15,000 Homeless In Hotels

Kathy Novak
April 03, 2020 - 5:37 pm
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on February 27, 2020 in Sacramento.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Governor Gavin Newsom says California is looking to acquire up to 15,000 hotel rooms for the homeless coronavirus cases emerge among the homeless population. The state is partnering with FEMA and has secured almost 7,000 rooms already.

“And it can’t come soon enough because we’ve had, of course, that one tragic death of a homeless individual in Santa Clara. And we had a number of counties in the last days that have reported incidences of positive results in counties large and small, including San Francisco,” said the Governor.

That case has sparked an outcry among activists who say San Francisco officials should be doing more to move the homeless into hotel rooms. Activists gathered outside the city’s Emergency Operations Center Friday for a socially distanced protest: staying in their cars and honking their horns. 

Five city supervisors are planning to introduce emergency legislation requiring the city to immediately move 1,000 homeless people into empty hotel rooms, but Mayor London Breed says it will take time because of the extensive services that some residents need.

“It’s gonna require more money, more staffing and there are going to be limitations in terms of what we’re going to be able to not only cover, but what we’re going to be able to get reimbursed for by the federal government.”

Mayor Breed says homeless residents who are recovering from a case of coronavirus or those who are older need to be prioritized and moved into hotel rooms first. “If someone does not need to be in a hospital bed and they are homeless, the opportunity to provide them with a bed in a hotel is so critical to their recovery and limiting their ability to spread it to other people. And it’s important to making that bed available for someone who really is in need.”

FEMA has agreed to reimburse 75% of the state’s cost to house homeless people who have tested positive for the virus, been exposed or are otherwise at high risk.

“This was the crisis that predated the current crisis in the state of California,” said Newsom. “And we’re doing everything in our power to meet it head on.”