It’s been months since San Francisco pledged to clean up its city and clear out the homeless camps and tent villages. The “Safe Sleeping Villages” were six tent sites created last year in order to move people out of indoor shelters and follow social distancing guidelines when the pandemic hit. Residents within the site are given 24-hour security, bathrooms, maintenance, and three meals a day. But in a report unveiled at a recent city budget committee meeting, the program has cost the city $16.1 million so far, which would be an estimated $5,000 per tent every month…that’s one high-class tent.
The expansion of hotel programs for the homeless included an additional 400 more hotel rooms to the 1,800 already in use and comes just two weeks after the Biden Administration acknowledged that FEMA would fully reimburse the cities for these programs. But that wasn’t the case.
The “Safe Sleeping Villages” program isn’t eligible for reimbursement by the government, along with the city’s $650 million deficit, so it was funded by state and city money and revenue from a 2018 business tax instead. The program costs a single tent-camping spot $61,000 per year for a total of 262 tents spread across six sites.
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Abigail Stewart-Kahn, the interim director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, reports that the costs on-site are $190 per tent per night, which is still cheaper than homeless being housed in a first-class hotel, but the hotel programs would receive 100% federal reimbursement.
According to the reports, some of the homeless individuals aren’t even willing to move into these hotels in the first place. They’ve described the hotel rooms as “oppressive” and “jail-like,” adding that they’d rather prefer the freedom of staying on their own on the streets. Reminds me of a Jojo Moyes quote – “You can only actually help someone who wants to be helped.”
Regardless of the circumstances, $5,000 a tent is a ludicrous amount of money to spend on any group of people, regardless of circumstances.
The city didn’t even plan accordingly and rushed the shelter sites during COVID-19. They didn’t do a thorough contract bidding process, provide water and electrical hookups, or create sleeping spaces that would be a sustainable model without federal reimbursement.
These eye-popping figures have made many San Francisco residents critical of the program, noting that the price tag amounts to 2.5x the median price of a one-bedroom apartment. The amount spent by San Francisco officials on the homeless population is staggering and will continue, but what else can you expect from progressives?