San Francisco Hotels Demand City Compensate for Damage by Homeless

San Francisco hotels are demanding millions of dollars from the city to compensate them for damage incurred while housing the homeless under a municipal government program launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the program, known as “Shelter-in-Place” (SIP), hotels were used to move homeless people off the streets for fear of spreading the coronavirus in tent cities. Ironically, as COVID became better understood, officials began recommending against clearing homeless encampments, because the virus spread less easily outdoors. However, the practice of housing the homeless in hotels was embraced by Democratic officials in state and local government, though it was expensive, as a temporary way of tackling an ongoing homeless crisis.

Now, with tourism picking up again, hotels in San Francisco, which were commandeered by the SIP program, are demanding that the city compensate them for the damage that some temporary homeless residents caused.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday:

Hotel Union Square’s clean-up bill was steep — $5.6 million to repair rampant smoke damage, broken light fixtures, mold and other problems.

As city supervisors consider shelling out millions to settle the dispute over damages at one of San Francisco’s hotel homeless shelters, tax payers could be on the hook for millions more to settle similar claims from other hotels that participated in the program.

It’s still unclear how many claims the city may face, but with more than two dozen hotels participating with the program at its peak city officials could soon be contending with more — particularly since some SIP hotels only recently began winding down operations.

The city considers the program a success, even though it is ending and homelessness persists, because it says it slowed the spread of COVID-19 and allowed homeless residents to quarantine in hotel rooms rather than in local hospitals, where they could have burdened public health.

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