HSH and our City and non-profit partners are committed to providing care for people experiencing homelessness during this public health emergency. This page contains information about the Shelter-in-Place hotel system and a timeline with details about San Francisco’s response to COVID-19.
San Francisco launched the Shelter-in-Place (SIP) Hotel Program as part of the City’s COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program. The SIP Hotels provide non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness who are most vulnerable to the virus.
Timeline: HSH’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
HSH applied learning from the City’s historic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A key lesson is that non-congregate shelter could be a cost-effective way to keep people safe and provide temporary shelter. As a result, HSH opened the first Non-Congregate Winter Shelter in a former SIP hotel with savings gleaned from the FEMA funding extension.
In December 2021, the Interfaith Winter Shelter agreed to accept self referrals for the remainder of the program to assist in the emergency response to inclement weather.
December 2021 also saw new projects under the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan that will expand HSH’s shelter capacity for up to 430 individuals AND provide permanent housing for 194 residents who are currently experiencing homelessness.
On November 21, 2021, the Interfaith Winter Shelter Program opened for its 33rd winter. The shelter transitions among four religious facilities, and will remain open until March 26, 2022.
In October 2021, HSH moved forward with the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan to acquire three new buildings for Permanent Supportive Housing. These acquisitions represent 237 new homes for people exiting homelessness. This brought the total number of newly acquired PSH units to 714.
August 2021: In response to the Delta variant and extension of FEMA funding through December 31, 2021, HSH implemented policy changes to support guests in the SIP hotel program. The Department committed to housing all remaining guests in the SIP Hotels with a demonstrated high vulnerability to COVID-19, regardless of when they entered the program.
On July 30th, 2021, the first SIP Hotel was demobilized as part of our phased rehousing of guests brought into shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 2021 saw the launch of the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan Tracker. Follow along as we track our progress toward housing our unsheltered neighbors.
At the end of June 2021, the Covid Command Center (CCC) shut down operations,and support functions moved back to their home departments. This meant the SIP hotels and Safe Sleep oversight moved to HSH.
On June 15, 2021, San Francisco fully reopened for business.
Along with reopening in June 2021 came the Mayor’s historic $1.1 billion investment in new Permanent Supportive Housing and other services and support for people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.
Mayor Breed announced the opening of the new Hummingbird Behavioral Health Center in the Mission in May 2021. The psychiatric respite center adds 30 much-needed overnight beds and 20 daytime drop-in spaces for people experiencing homelessness.
April 2021 brought the city together in a coordinated effort to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness as more vaccines became available.
On March 17, 2021, the city and county of San Francisco commemorated the one-year anniversary of the county-wide stay-at-home order. San Francisco led the nation in issuing these orders, which saved countless lives.
In March 2021, folks living in high-risk congregate settings became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. People living within highly impacted zip codes were also a part of this campaign to vaccinate the city.
February 2021: The Bayview SAFE Navigation Center and the Lower Polk TAY Navigation Center opened and started providing shelter at a COVID-informed capacity. See the Mayor’s announcements on the opening of the Bayview site and the opening of the TAY site.
In January 2021, HSH presented the Pandemic Prioritization Plan to stakeholders. Access a memo with further details and the presentation. The guest letter is also available (with versions in Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog).
January 2021: The Mayor also directed City departments to determine if there were additional hotels and service providers interested in working with HSH to open more SIP hotels, thanks to an expansion of FEMA funds by the Biden-Harris Administration. See the full update here.
December 2020– In response to legislation from the SF Board of Supervisors, HSH drafted and introduced the SIP Hotel Rehousing and Site Demobilization Proposal. This proposed plan for rehousing individuals and families staying in the SIP Hotels uses a national best practice disaster rehousing model to move guests from temporary SIP hotel sites into a range of permanent housing interventions quickly. This model focuses rehousing efforts to act with urgency, connecting people in need immediately to housing resources, removing onerous documentation requirements and accessing needed public benefits and supports quickly. This ambitious proposal is aligned with HSH’s mission to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time. Learn about progress to house SIP hotel guests.
In November 2020, San Francisco received approximately $10 million in additional State Project Roomkey funding that we utilized to support the continued operation of SIP Hotels for 30 days. This funding provided the opportunity for HSH to gather input from key stakeholders, including service providers and SIP hotel guests, to inform the SIP Rehousing and Site Demobilization Proposal. This four-phased proposal, originally introduced in October, connects SIP hotel guests to permanent housing interventions, upholding the City’s commitment to not exiting SIP hotel guests to the street.
Additionally, in November, the City had one active Safe Sleep Site and four Safe Sleep Villages providing over 200 COVID-19 compliant spaces for people experiencing homelessness.
In September and October 2020, the City applied for and was awarded a combined $77 million dollars from the State to purchase two hotel properties through Project Homekey. This funding allows the City to purchase the Granada Hotel and the Hotel Diva, adding approximately 362 units of Permanent Supportive Housing, part of Mayor Breed’s Homelessness Recovery Plan.
We know that housing is the solution to homelessness. Throughout this public health crisis, we have provided emergency housing for thousands of unsheltered people but we have also developed a long-term Homelessness Recovery Plan to provide shelter and housing for thousands of people for years to come. Homekey funding will help our transition from response to recovery.”– Mayor London Breed
In July 2020, Mayor Breed announced the City’s Homelessness Recovery Plan to support investments in housing and shelter that will help the City create more resources for homeless residents as San Francisco endures and eventually emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Homelessness Recovery Plan proposes the largest expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing in San Francisco in 20 years.
As part of the Mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan, the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool was announced in July 2020. As the City pivoted from COVID-19 response to recovery, a partnership with Tipping Point Community, Brilliant Corners, and Dignity Health funded and operated a bold initiative to help hundreds of unhoused residents exit homelessness through scattered-site Permanent Supportive Housing units offered through the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool.
June 2020 demonstrated the social toll of sheltering in place and the isolation of experiencing homelessness. HSH, along with non-profit Partner Provider Miracle Messages, launched Miracle Friends, with the goal of providing socially distant companionship and support for people in SIP and I/Q Hotels through trained and dedicated volunteers.
In April 2020, the City activated its first Shelter-in-Place (SIP) hotel, providing a safe place for individuals who were most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the virus. Over the intervening months, the City expanded the temporary emergency SIP program to include 25 SIP hotel sites. At its peak, these sites housed over 2,500 COVID-vulnerable individuals. This included over 500 COVID-vulnerable people experiencing homelessness transitioned from shelters and Navigation Centers to SIP hotels.
The City also opened four Isolation and Quarantine (I&Q) Hotels for people who were experiencing homelessness. These sites also served people who lived in settings where they could not safely quarantine in their home, who were awaiting test results, or tested positive for COVID-19 and needed to isolate.
As part of the initial emergency response to COVID-19 in March 2020 and April 2020, the City also provided hotel rooms for frontline essential workers to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. From March 2020 through early August 2020, this program served 1,128 frontline workers at a dedicated hotel site. The frontline worker housing program transitioned to an on-demand, flexible hotel accommodation model that addressed the critical emergency needs of first responders and employees who test positive for COVID-19 or who were suspected of having COVID-19 and were unable to safely self-isolate/quarantine due to their housing situation. Learn more about the City’s COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program.
Additionally, HSH and our partners:
- Launched and funded the MealsInPlaceSF program, which delivered approximately 1,400 meals per day to people living in encampments in partnership with the Salvation Army.
- Implemented homeless outreach focused on COVID-19 education, mask delivery, food/water delivery, hygiene and healthcare information.
- Launched Safe Sleep with non-profit partners. Safe Sleep is a low-barrier and COVID-informed program that helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by offering 24/7 access, connecting clients to resources and essential services to help them safely shelter in place, and providing a connection to the Homelessness Response System to work toward an exit from homelessness. Persons experiencing homelessness were initially referred to Safe Sleep through the Healthy Streets Operations Center (HSOC)
- Set up a resource distribution center for HSH providers and distributed appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the Homelessness Response System
- Deployed PIT Stops and handwashing stations to high-impacted areas across the city and in the largest congregate shelter to increase access to hygiene
In March 2020, a shelter-in-place order was issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) due to the community spread of COVID-19. It required that residents remain in place, with the only exception being for essential needs.
“We know these measures will significantly disrupt people’s day to day lives, but they are absolutely necessary. This is going to be a defining moment for our City and we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside. I want to encourage everyone to remain calm and emphasize that all essential needs will continue to be met. San Francisco has overcome big challenges before and we will do it again, together.”– Mayor London Breed
In February 2020, Mayor Breed led the nation by issuing the first COVID-related emergency declarations. “Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” said Mayor Breed. “We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm.”