During the pandemic, San Francisco spent a significant amount of tax dollars housing the homeless

During the COVID-19 outbreak, San Francisco spent about $423 million keeping about 5,000 homeless individuals in hotels and other “non-congregate” facilities. The city now wants federal taxpayers to help pay some of this expense.

Based on data from the San Francisco Chronicle, the total cost per homeless person that San Francisco accommodated throughout the epidemic was $84,600.

Officials at San Francisco City Hall had anticipated receiving $190 million in reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for lodging homeless individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic; but, a recent rule change may mean that the city bears the financial burden.

During the epidemic, San Francisco and several other Californian cities provided hotel accommodations for the homeless in an effort to promote social separation and curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to the source, FEMA informed local governments in October 2023 that it would not pay for several hotel stays that exceeded 20 days over the period of June 2021 to May 2023.

FEMA’s decision to stop paying for some hotel stays that last longer than 20 days, according to city officials, “poses a significant potential risk” to San Francisco’s budget. According to estimates, Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed stated that the city’s financial deficit could amount to $1 billion by the fiscal year 2028.

FEMA’s policy change has been deemed unfair by certain city officials. Ben Rosenfield, the controller for San Francisco City, called FEMA’s actions “impermissible retroactive law” and asserted that the organization never made reference to its 20-day limit throughout the pandemic.

Officials in San Francisco are ready to battle for federal payments. According to Rosenfield, “we intend to investigate all available avenues for appealing any claims that FEMA Region 9 denies that we think are eligible for reimbursement, based on the guidance in effect at the time.”

Taxpayers will bear the expense whether or not San Francisco is successful in getting FEMA to reimburse its hotel expenses. If San Francisco pays, city taxpayers will bear the cost; if FEMA pays, federal taxpayers will bear the cost.

Prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s November visit to the city, San Francisco was able to remove homeless encampments from a few of its neighborhoods.

Not just San Francisco is incurring huge costs by housing the homeless in hotels. In May 2023, Los Angeles considered allocating $250 million to purchase eight motels and a five-star hotel to accommodate the city’s homeless population.

Due to the continued immigration issue, other Democratic-run cities around the nation, such as Chicago and New York, are experiencing financial hardship and have also requested financial assistance from the federal government.

Requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation were not immediately answered by the San Francisco Mayor’s and Controller’s offices. Additionally, FEMA did not answer a request for comment right away.

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