San Francisco mayor proposes adding housing for homeless in hotels

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is proposing adding hundreds of additional units of housing for homeless people in hotels and he is willing to spend the money to do it.

Currently, there are more than 6,000 people living on San Francisco streets, in shelters or in supportive housing.

To help the homeless the city is spending about $452,000 a day on homelessness.

KTVU checked with the city and the $167 million a year price tag for homelessness is about $4 million more than the recreation and park budget and about $55 million more than it spends on libraries.

KTVU asked Lee why it costs so much year after year for a problem that never seems to improve.

"When people say can we see less homeless on the street, it's not easy. We have to present all issues that are challenged by it, then offer up some great solutions," Lee said.

But Lee says he is optimistic there will be some solutions.

He is proposing spending an additional $30 million over the next two years to provide an additional 500 hotel rooms with support services for the chronically homeless. That he says should make a dent in some areas of town.

"We will get to the differences in Union Square or downtown, eventually we will. Now we have a model homeless individuals believe in" said Lee.

Lee is proposing for first time in San Francisco a 30 bed medical clinic for homeless people which should cut down on emergency services.

Homeless advocates applaud the move.

"We have so many folks with compromised medical conditions, the shelters really aren't equipped to handle their medical needs. And people are literally dying on our streets," said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition On Homelessness.

The city says without all the money it spends on homelessness, the number of people on the street would easily double.