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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.

The Department of Public Health has identified the Palace of Fine Arts as a possible location for a pop-up ward wards to be used in the event of a coronavirus surge.

S.F. Identifies Sites for Pop-Up COVID-19 Wards in Case of Surge

San Francisco has identified a handful of potential pop-up wards to be used in the event of a coronavirus surge to house nearly 500 COVID-positive patients who do not require hospitalization but who cannot recuperate on their own because of their housing status or medical conditions, the Department of Emergency Management confirmed in a series of emails last week.

Devon Tartee stands outside the city-sanctioned tent camp at 180 Jones St. where he has lived for the past two weeks. Brian Howey / San Francisco Public Press

S.F. Places More Than 250 Homeless Tenderloin Residents in Hotels

San Francisco social workers had placed 264 homeless Tenderloin residents in hotel rooms as of Wednesday morning as part of a two-week push to remove most of the neighborhood’s homeless tents. The city initiative comes in the wake of complaints from neighbors, outrage from city supervisors and a May lawsuit against the city by the University of California Hastings College of the Law over deteriorating Tenderloin conditions. Since the city began placing people in hotel rooms June 10, staff have averaged about 29 hotel placements per weekday. Jeff Kositsky, manager of the Healthy Streets Operations Center, the city’s multi-department homelessness task force leading the initiative, confirmed via text message that the city would not place anyone in hotels Wednesday, adding that he was unavailable for further comment on the city’s progress. Workers also moved an additional 10 homeless people from street camps into city-sanctioned tent encampments like one at 180 Jones St., a collection of a couple dozen tents surrounded by chain link fencing in the Tenderloin.

Coronavirus Resource Guide for Vehicle Dwellers in San Francisco and Berkeley

Photojournalist Yesica Prado assembled this resource guide as part of her ongoing project examining the culture of vehicle living in San Francisco and Berkeley. CatchLight, Dysturb, The Everyday Projects and the San Francisco Public Press collaborated to produce this guide for printed posters, which are posted where vehicle dwellers would likely see them. The aim is to improve access to locally relevant public health information as part of the Artists Against an #Infodemic Initiative.

Guía de Recursos Sobre el Coronavirus Para Residentes de Vehículos en San Francisco y Berkeley

La fotoperiodista Yesica Prado reunió esta guía de recursos como parte de su proyecto que examina la cultura de vivir en vehículos en San Francisco y Berkeley. CatchLight, Dysturb, The Everyday Projects y San Francisco Public Press colaboraron para producir esta guía y carteles, que se publicaran donde los habitantes de vehículos puedan leerlos. El objetivo es mejorar el acceso a la información de salud pública localmente como parte de la Iniciativa de Artistas Contra una #Infodemia.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman in an alley that overlooks the Everett Safe Sleeping Village. Laura Wenus / Public Press

Safe Sleeping Site Opens at School for Just Six Weeks

A few days after a new city-approved tent encampment, known as a “safe sleeping village,” had opened at Everett Middle School, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman visited the site and then took a walk around the block to see how the number of encampments had changed. The Everett site is one of three city-approved camps for homeless people to set up tents, access showers and meals, and maintain social distancing. Members of the press are not allowed inside, but “Civic” spoke with Mandelman about his observations and his hopes for the site, which will be in operation for just six weeks. We also spoke with several people at nearby encampments to see how well news of the site had gotten around. Though one man said he was happy with his place at the site and especially pleased to have access to a shower, many who remained on the street expressed distrust of the program.

A homeless person sits under a blanket next to a cluster of tents in the Tenderloin May 13. Noah Arroyo / San Francisco Public Press

Nonprofits Want Added Homeless Protections in UC Hastings Lawsuit Against S.F.

Three nonprofit groups have asked to be included in a lawsuit against San Francisco by the University of California Hastings law school and a Tenderloin business group over the worsening conditions in the neighborhood since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Their aim: ensuring homeless people’s needs are considered during negotiations on how to address the issue. If granted, the motion would add the Coalition on Homelessness, homeless shelter Hospitality House and homeless services provider Faithful Fools as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in May. That would allow them to challenge some of the university’s complaints against the city, which the three groups say ignore the interests of unhoused residents and classify them as a public nuisance. The groups believe the latter classification could lead to the city performing sweeps, or issuing move-along orders and confiscating belongings from homeless residents, said Lauren Hansen, the Public Interest Law Project attorney representing the service providers.

Amoeba Music in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against San Francisco over a sanctioned homeless encampment. Sarah Nichols / CC BY-SA 2.0

Businesses to Drop Lawsuit Against S.F. Over City-Sanctioned Homeless Camp

After backlash from neighbors, activists and others, several Haight-Ashbury businesses plan to drop a federal lawsuit against San Francisco for its placement of an approved homeless encampment at Haight and Stanyan streets. The plaintiffs plan to withdraw the suit Monday or Tuesday, Joe Goldmark, the partner-manager of record vendor Amoeba Music’s Haight-Ashbury location, said by phone Monday morning. In addition to Amoeba, plaintiffs include Escape From New York Pizza and the Concerned Citizens of the Haight, a newly formed neighborhood association. A statement from the Concerned Citizens noted that members of the group “still have health and safety concerns, and believe that there are more appropriate sites than directly adjacent to a residential/commercial neighborhood and opposite a preschool. We hope that the City will honor their commitment to use this site for 3-6 months only.”

“We’re moving on, and I don’t have any further comments at this time,” Goldmark said.


Homeless Clamor for Safe Camp Sites While Over 1,000 Hotel Rooms Go Unused

Demand among homeless San Franciscans for the 40 slots the city is making available in its Haight-Ashbury safe camping site has outstripped supply, even as more than 1,000 hotel rooms and trailers meant for vulnerable residents sit empty. Around 60 people have requested to stay at the site, which has space for only 40 tents, said Mary Howe, director of the Homeless Youth Alliance.