San Fransisco is to move thousands of rough sleepers off the streets and into shelters amid fears the coronavirus outbreak could devastate the city’s homeless.
Nearly 10,000 people are sleeping rough in the city and could be particularly vulnerable to the infection of the virus without the capacity to self-isolate.
In response, city officials are securing 4,500 rooms for those who need to self-isolate.
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Officials are also asking hotels in the area, which have been left virtually empty due to stay-at-home orders across the county, to house those in need.
The scheme is one of the most substantial measures attempted to reduce the growing homelessness in the city in years.
At least 160 people who either tested positive for the coronavirus or were awaiting results were being referred to hotels as of 25 March, city officials said.
Hospitals have said they will not discharge patients who need to be quarantined onto the streets where they could possibly infect others.
Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Human Services Agency, said: “They’ll only discharge people who are able to self-quarantine.”
Hotels could also be offered as an alternative for those living in small space single-room occupancy buildings with shared facilities, where it is nearly impossible for them to self-isolate.
However, some hotels have reportedly expressed reservations over the programme, citing issues of property damage and uncertain questions surrounding tenancy rights.
San Francisco has reported 497 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and seven death.
Additional reporting by Reuters