The sun pried through the morning fog and splashed across Leif Skorochod’s unshaven face as he sifted hurriedly through the pile of bike parts in his tent, picking out the rejects and tossing them into the back of a public works truck.
Like most of the homeless residents on Willow Street Tuesday morning, Skorochod was headed for either a city-sanctioned tent camp or the barracks-style homeless shelter at Moscone Convention Center after city workers arrived early that morning and gave them a choice: Accept shelter or leave.
Homeless Outreach Team members discussed placement options with tent residents while Public Works crews tossed items into truck beds. At least two residents received hotel rooms because they have underlying health conditions. The rest of those the Public Press spoke to were either headed to Moscone or a sanctioned camp site.
Skorochod was nervous about being exposed to coronavirus or other illnesses at Moscone, he said, and would likely opt to stay outdoors at a sanctioned camp instead.
City workers continue to place residents at the Moscone shelter despite concern from advocates for the homeless who fear that inconsistent testing and a lack of social distancing enforcement at large shelters could lead to another COVID-19 outbreak. In April, the Multi-Service Center South homeless shelter experienced one of the largest shelter outbreaks in the country when more than 100 shelters residents and staff tested positive for coronavirus.
“I’m kind of disappointed because we were hoping to go into hotels,” Skorochod said, adding that he had heard from two friends who live at the camp on Fulton Street that conditions were better at the sanctioned camp than at Moscone.
“I would rather have my own room, but they said they ran out,” said Rebeccah Franklin, who had been living on Willow Street a couple of days before city workers rousted her.