It turns out that putting homeless people in luxury hotels in San Francisco isn’t such a good idea

Who could have predicted that serious problems would follow upon housing homeless people -- often with criminal backgrounds, drug problems, and mental health issues -- in San Francisco luxury hotels? Actually, it looks like the city officials responsible for making this decision predicted it, because they have kept the practice confidential. Erica Sandburg writes an eyebrow-raising report in City Journal:

One recent morning a disheveled, visibly disturbed man ran frantically around the lobby of the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the historic and elegant property located at the crest of tony Nob Hill. As one of San Francisco’s designated Front-Line Worker Housing (FLWH) hotels, it’s reserved for health-care and public-safety employees working on Covid-19 related matters. But San Francisco is surreptitiously placing homeless people in luxury hotels by designating them as emergency front-line workers, a term that the broader community understands to mean doctors, nurses, and similar professionals.


“Do I look scary to you?” the man demanded. “They’re trying to evict me because I wanted more towels but I’m homeless! They called the cops on me.” He dashed out the door and around the grand circular entrance, where two police officers attempted to resolve the situation. Soon a cab pulled up and an inebriated couple emerged, holding full plastic trash bags. They fought, screaming at each other until the woman entered the lobby and her partner lit a meth pipe in the garage area. More “front-line workers.”

Mark Hopkins Hotel (photo credit: Bobak Ha'Eri)

Of course, this sort of travesty in a public place can’t be kept secret forever:

obfuscation is ultimately futile. Security guards standing outside hotel entrances, where they had never been before, are clear indicators that something is amiss.

But the public is being lied to in order to cover up the most disgraceful aspects of the program:

The Department of Public Health manages the controversial free alcohol, cigarette, and cannabis program for homeless people placed in the hotels. It originally claimed that money for the service came from private donations, which are not allowed by law. After multiple requests to provide the names of the donors, the DPH conceded that “No such record currently exists.” A public-records investigation into the matter has revealed that, as of June 16, DPH approved $3,795.98 to buy the homeless guests vodka and beer (cigarettes have been scrapped). The funding came from the public treasury, after all.

All this does not come cheap:

The hotels were pressured into accepting the homeless guests, though they were also eager for the chance to recoup some revenue lost to the Covid-19 lockdowns. Rooms are rented at close to $200 per night, totaling $6,000 a month—nearly double the cost of a private one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. The city-sponsored guests also receive personal grooming, sanitary, and cleaning supplies, three delivered meals, and laundry service for clothes and linens. Contracts last between 90 days and two years; by that point, the guests may be able to claim de facto permanent residence.

San Francisco taxpayers will almost certainly be told that their city is in need of higher taxes when the full impact of the shutdown is reflected in municipal finances. At last they can take comfort in the fact they are digging deeper to pay for vacations are luxury hotels for homeless people.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Alex F.

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