Advocates urge city to buy more hotels to house the homeless
February 17, 2021

San Francisco Examiner, by Ida Mojadad

Pandemic, budget surplus offer rare ‘window of opportunity’ to quickly acquire more units

More than 50 advocacy groups on Wednesday urged city officials to use available resources to buy struggling hotels that they say could house homeless residents more quickly and cheaply than building new units.

The push comes after the Biden administration announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would reimburse 100 percent of the costs associated with shelter-in-place hotels, where more than 2,000 unhoused folks moved during the pandemic. The recent federal policy change is expected to free up $83 million in city funds, which advocates for the homeless argue should be used on permanent housing solutions.

“This is just an incredible window of opportunity and we don’t want The City to blow it,” said Sara Shortt, Community Housing Partnership director of policy and community organizing, at a press conference on Wednesday. “This chance is not likely to come again, not at all. The owners want to sell, we have the money, what are we waiting for?”

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