Protect unhoused San Franciscans from COVID-19

by Jennifer Friedenbach

They tell you to stay home, but you have no home. They tell you to shelter in place, but you have no place. House the unhoused now! – Photo: Teresa Hammerl, Hoodline

House every single homeless person in a vacant unit now.

San Francisco currently has 30,000 vacant units and 42,000 empty hotel rooms while 18,000 homeless people who are disproportionately elderly, chronically ill and with severe medical conditions are without homes. Currently, the City is only placing those who test positive or who are symptomatic into hotel rooms.

We are calling on the City to house every single homeless person in a vacant housing unit immediately, prioritizing those who fall into the high-risk category.

Stop the sweeps.

The Department of Public Works and the Police Department are still harassing homeless people, confiscating their belongings and forcing them to move along – when they have nowhere else to go. We call for a stop to all homeless sweeps including property confiscation, a moratorium on the enforcement of anti-homeless ordinances and allowing those without housing to shelter-in-place on all public lands.

Provide comprehensive support to those “sheltering-in-place” outside.

Surviving in public space already presents a number of individual and public health risks. The city should immediately offer tents, hygiene stations, food, water and other provisions to all of those sheltering-in-place outside.

Protect people in shelter: Deconcentrate and stabilize shelters.

San Francisco’s shelters are mass congregate settings, some with more than 300 people, where the virus will spread rapidly. We are calling on the City to enforce all CDC guidelines for homeless people in shelter and to provide up to date information to shelter residents regarding the risk of contracting COVID-19 in congregate settings.

Leave no one hungry: Provide food assistance to shelters, encampments and quarantine units.

Effectively deliver and provide three meals per day for those residing outdoors, in hotel rooms and in shelter. Doing so will reduce their needs to move about the city acquiring food and resources and in turn reducing the risk of wider community spread.

Prevent homelessness: Ban all evictions and suspend all rent.

In order to prevent homelessness, the City must ensure that all eviction proceedings are halted and that a rent suspension is implemented. The City should create a financial assistance fund to assist with back rental payment and other debt incurred during the crisis.

Create clear guidelines for homeless people from the Department of Public Health.

General rules don’t help: What does “stay home” mean to a homeless person? Unsheltered and sheltered homeless San Franciscans need clear, specific guidelines to follow and for those guidelines to be widely distributed.

Organizations signing on to this statement:

Coalition on Homelessness

San Francisco Night Ministry

Compass Family Services

Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco

Faith in Action Bay Area

Do No Harm Coalition

ABD/Skywatchers

Western Regional Advocacy Project

LavaMae

Hospitality House

Eviction Defense Collaborative

Mission Housing

Street Sheet

ForElk.org

Global Movement Network

San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project

St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church

San Francisco Rising

Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council

Haight Ashbury Merchants Association

St. Anthony’s

People Power Media

AIDS Legal Referral Panel

The Gubbio Project

GLIDE

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, 280 Turk St., San Francisco, www.cohsf.org, can be reached at 415-346-3740, ext. 306, or jfriedenbach@cohsf.org.

POOR Magazine demands an end to all sweeps, belonging theft, evictions and foreclosures

by POOR News Network

POOR Magazine and Homefuness are formally demanding a permanent end to:

– All “sweeps” and belonging theft and all criminalization of unhoused peoples in this Covid-19 crisis and forever.

– A moratorium on evictions of low and no-income elders, families and workers in this Covid-19 crisis and forever.

– A moratorium on all foreclosures of homes owned by individual families, disabled communities and elders.

– An end to the shutoff of utilities of families and elders and disabled.

– Sick pay paid to all gig workers, low-wage workers and families for the duration of this Covid-19 crisis.

– Vacant and hoarded land, homes and buildings immediately redistributed to houseless families, elders and individuals at no cost for their own self-determined movements like Homefulness, Moms4Housing and #WhereDoWeGoBerkeley? #FirstTheyCameForTheHomeless.

Join #RoofLessRadio as we continue to activate radical redistributed resources to all of us po’ folks on March 24.

ComeUnity Healing, Cleaning, Sanitation Supplies: Radical Redistribution Days at Encampments & Po’ People Housing

POOR News Network can be reached via poormag@gmail.com. To learn more, visit www.poormagazine.org and www.racepovertymediajustice.org.