Working From Home May Drastically Change the Workplace Even After the Pandemic

Zoom meetings and other communications tools have made it possible for many white collar workers to remain employed as they work from home. 

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom says what had once been uncommon, is now a necessity. “Before COVID, about 5% of working days were spent at home and that was done by about 15% of Americans, with an average of one in every three days. During COVID, 42% of us are now working from home so it’s an eight-fold increase.”

Courtesy of Nicholas Bloom. Of the remaining pre-COVID workers, Bloom found that nearly 33% are not employed and the remaining ones are essential workers and others who work directly with people or products. 

When the pandemic is over, Bloom predicts that fewer people will work five days a week in a central office. “We’ll go from very occasionally working from home to something like two to three days a week.” He predicts that will have a major impact on where people will live.

HOT workers and homeless man

Homeless Service Providers Ask City for $43 Million to Handle Pandemic Fallout

As San Francisco leaders look for ways to slash spending in the face of a huge budget shortfall, a coalition of homeless service providers is asking for an increase in funding over the next two fiscal years to address an expected surge in demand due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The 30-plus-member Homeless Emergency Services Providers Association presented a proposal Monday to Mayor London Breed’s budget office requesting more than $42.5 million for homelessness-related programs through 2022, roughly 23% more than the groups received the previous two years. The money would fund subsidies that could help house hundreds of individuals and families, bolster emergency shelters and homelessness prevention programs, and jumpstart the city’s first safe drug injection site — provided Assembly Bill 362,  which would permit pilot versions of such sites, survives the state Legislature this year and is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We all understand that this is a tough time for our city’s revenue and budget, but it’s also a very tough time for our residents,” Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district is home to many of the city’s unhoused residents, said about the proposal. “If we don’t invest in prevention and make sure that the most vulnerable people are taken care of, it can get much worse quickly.”

The service providers’ association has won funding for its members and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in the past, including more than $24 million in funding for various programs in the last fiscal year.

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Months Into Pandemic, Physician Reflects on Developing Coronavirus Knowledge

In March, Dr. Monica Bhargava, a pulmonary critical care physician at the county hospital in Oakland, predicted on “Civic” that the novel coronavirus would deeply affect the region’s health care system for many months to come. That, and some of her other observations, turned out to be correct. In recent months, scientists and doctors have learned much more about how the virus spreads and what makes patients vulnerable to serious complications. Bhargava returned to “Civic” to follow up on her earlier observations and discuss how the conversations doctors, patients and whole communities are having about managing the coronavirus pandemic have changed. “A lot of my patients live five or six patients to a one-bedroom.

Mask distribution

As Fire Season Approaches, COVID-19 Strains Mask Supplies

The last few years’ fires are all blurring into one for Jessica Tovar, an Oakland resident and advocate at the nonprofit Local Clean Energy Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “I had an office that you could see the port of Oakland from, and in those times, you could not see the port because the smoke was so thick,” she said. Oakland was among the worst-hit cities when smoke from the 2017 Tubbs wildfires spread to the areas around San Francisco Bay, lowering air quality to levels comparable to Beijing, some of the worst in the world. As California’s fall wildfire season approaches, mask shortages mean Oakland residents are at risk of exposure to both coronavirus and to toxic smoke. Tovar, who frequently interacts with underserved Oakland residents, echoed the concerns of advocacy organizations that distribute masks.

Merced Domínguez observa a las palomas volar sobre su jardín en la calle Octava. "Todos los días, me siguen a donde quiera que vaya," dijo Domínguez, arrojando alpiste en la banqueta. “Todo el camino hasta el Dollar Tree y de vuelta a casa. Solo están esperando que los alimente." La rutina habitual de Domínguez consiste en colocar comida y agua en la banqueta afuera de su vehículo para los animales callejeros que visitan la manzana, incluyendo un gato callejero que llamó Cookie y las docenas de palomas que aparecen dos veces al día.

Berkeley Obliga a los Habitantes de Vehículos a Seguir Rodando

Este ensayo fotográfico acompaña a la historia “Sin Dirección, Sin Descanso: Berkeley Obliga a los Habitantes de Vehículos a Seguir Rodando,” que forma parte del proyecto “Conduciendo a Casa: Sobreviviendo la Crisis de la Vivienda” (Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis).

On a Sunday afternoon, children play in the Gilman District in West Berkeley. Their family is part of a community of vehicle residents called Friends on Wheels, whose members have parked and lived together for two years. The community is made up of families, students, gig workers, service workers and disabled and elderly people who live in all shapes and sizes of vehicles.

No Address, No Rest: Berkeley Forces Vehicle Dwellers to Keep Rolling

In a region where the cost of living has spiraled upward in the last decade, some who find themselves without housing opt for living in vehicles. Many view it as a temporary fix — an affordable shelter or intermediate stop they hope will put them on a path to stable, permanent housing. In Berkeley, a group of vehicle dwellers joined together and created their own support system.

Mayor London Breed and a sign language interpreter at a July 22 press conference. Screen capture from SFGovTV via Zoom.

S.F. to Expand Coronavirus Testing as Cases Surge

San Francisco is conducting more than 3,000 coronavirus tests per day on average, but backlogs are developing at labs and a rising demand is making it more difficult to schedule a test. Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday that testing capacity will be expanded by about 1,400 tests per day in the coming weeks through the addition of appointment times and testing facilities. 

The CityTest facility on the Embarcadero will be adding 400 slots per day for essential workers. The city will launch two mobile pop-up testing sites with capacity of up to 250 tests per day, one of which will open this week and the other next week. Both pop-up facilities will rotate to neighborhoods where high rates of COVID-19 are detected. The city will also create a third CityTest site in a southeastern neighborhood in August, with a capacity of 500 tests per day at a yet undetermined location.

Delonzo Gallon's cubicle

At Moscone Homeless Shelter, Hazardous Conditions, Inconsistent Coronavirus Testing

As Moscone Center began accepting new homeless residents from street encampments in recent weeks, residents and advocates expressed concerns about safety at the convention center and other group shelter settings. Three residents said COVID-19 testing prior to admittance at Moscone Center is inconsistent, residents don’t reliably wear masks and sanitation is lacking. Bathrooms were particularly problematic, they said, citing feces-smeared toilet stalls and showers reeking of urine. “I have yet to see a standardized testing protocol for the reopening of shelters. I don’t know if one exists,” said Brian Edwards, a Coalition on Homelessness organizer and member of the Shelter Monitoring Committee, the city’s homeless shelter oversight board.