Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  

San Francisco Homeless Deaths Soar — and Officials Say It’s Not Directly Due to COVID-19

A row of homeless tents are seen in an alley way in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday April 7, 2020.Photo: Nick Otto / Special to The Chronicle

By Trisha Thadani
May 26, 2020 —

The number of homeless people in San Francisco who died over a recent eight-week period spiked compared to the same time last year, an increase that officials say was likely driven by drug overdoses, underlying medical conditions and a disruption to shelter and services due to the coronavirus pandemic.

None appear to be directly related to the coronavirus that is spreading throughout the city, according to preliminary Department of Public Health data obtained by The Chronicle. It is not clear how many people were posthumously tested for the virus.

Homeless people are faced with fewer options during the pandemic as the city has dramatically cut its shelter capacity. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle

Forty-eight homeless people — an average of six per week — died in San Francisco between March 30 and May 24, according to Dr. Barry Zevin, director of the Department of Public Health’s Street Medicine Team. For comparison, 14 people died in the same time period last year.

The data is preliminary; exact causes of death are pending until the medical examiner’s office finalizes a report. But, Zevin said, most of the deaths were likely related to substance overdoses and were highly concentrated among unsheltered people in the Tenderloin.

While the deaths did not appear to be directly related to COVID-19, the numbers suggest that disruptions to services and shelter caused by the pandemic may have been a contributing factor, Zevin said in an interview with The Chronicle. San Francisco has dramatically cut its shelter capacity in recent months so people can stay socially distant, and other services, like drop-in centers and community clinics, have closed, cut capacity or reduced hours.

Homeless couple Dashaun Jackson (left) and Tara Lowe (center) wait for street cleaning to clear Willow Street so they can set up their tent again in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle

“Congregate settings are a huge danger in terms of COVID spread, and that’s why we made these changes. I think it was the right decision, but it comes with consequences,” he said. “And it is very painful.”

Some of the circumstances of death outlined by Zevin in an email obtained by The Chronicle include:

Four deaths in shelter-in-place hotel sites. One of the deaths was likely related to a medical reason, while the other three were most likely drug overdoses.

One person died within hours of visiting San Francisco General Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Two people died within three days of being released from jail.

One person who died was found positive for the coronavirus in a postmortem test, but was believed to have died from “catastrophic peritonitis,” a life-threatening infection.

One person died who recovered from COVID-19, which they contracted as part of the massive outbreak at MSC South, San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter.

“It’s awful,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes the Tenderloin. “We have a very high rate of deaths of people who are homeless normally. And this has been exacerbated because people are more disrupted and disconnected than usual.”

The homeless encampment along Fulton Street at the Civic Center on Saturday, May 23, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. The city-sanctioned homeless encampment was set in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing rectangles drawn on the floor are an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

San Francisco has moved more than 1,200 people — such as those living on the streets or in densely populated apartment buildings — into hotel rooms, where they receive food and access to behavioral health services. The people moved into hotels are typically older and have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Zevin estimates that since mid-March, the DPH Street Medicine Team has tripled the usual number of people starting buprenorphine, a drug that helps mitigate withdrawal symptoms from opioids. He also said outreach teams like the Street Medicine Team, with Homeless Outreach Team and Harm Reduction Therapy Center, are doing outreach to those on the streets every day.

While Zevin says the city has likely saved many lives by doing outreach and moving people indoors, there are still thousands of people on the city’s streets suffering from drug addiction, poor hygiene and health.

The number of tents and makeshift structures throughout the Tenderloin neighborhood exploded by 285% between January and May, according to city data. The city as a whole saw a 71% increase in tents and structures during that period.

Meanwhile, drug overdoses in the city were already trending upward with the explosion of fentanyl on San Francisco’s streets. Santa Clara County has also seen an increase in fentanyl-related deaths, according to county health officials.

The homeless encampment along Fulton Street at the Civic Center on Saturday, May 23, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. The city-sanctioned homeless encampment was set in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing rectangles drawn on the floor are an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

“Over the past one to two years, fentanyl went from something that was rare in San Francisco to something that was very common in San Francisco,” Zevin said. “And like the rest of the country, when fentanyl comes to town, overdose deaths go up.”

The conditions in the Tenderloin have grown so dire that neighborhood residents, business owners and UC Hastings College of the Law sued the city in federal court this month. Two days after the lawsuit was filed, Mayor London Breed rolled out a plan to improve the conditions in the 49-block neighborhood, which included moving people into a sanctioned encampment in the Civic Center. The plan also calls for painting lines on sidewalks every 6 feet in heavily populated camping areas, and more rigorous enforcement of social distancing.

Still, several weeks after the plan was rolled out, there seems to be little improvement.

“What is not surprising is that poverty is twice as deadly in this circumstance,” said Sam Dennison, co-director of Faithful Fools, a nonprofit fighting poverty in the Tenderloin.

“Clearly we need a dedicated health policy that really examines both the conditions of people living on the streets, and also how we address their needs when an emergency like this comes up. They should not be the last people we think of. They should be the first.”

This article courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle


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California Cities Are Building ‘Sanctioned’ Homeless Encampments. Here’s What That Looks Like.


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1 Comment on "San Francisco Homeless Deaths Soar — and Officials Say It’s Not Directly Due to COVID-19"

  1. Jan Lightfoot | May 29, 2020 at 10:14 am | Reply

    People are made homeless and kept in the clasp of being homeless, by landlords scamming potential renters and saying they must earn 2 to 3 times the monthly rent. This equals to 2 to 3 times the Accepted minimum wage.

    Landlords has NO Official Power to increase the amount of minimum wages. Only, legislature’s do. Read Federal and state Fair Housing Act. Make a copy take it to the landlords, when you apply for a rent.

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