San Francisco, CA – The City of San Francisco has been using taxpayer dollars to provide liquor and beer to homeless people living in free luxury hotels designated for front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) originally claimed that the free alcohol was being paid for using private donations, the New York Post reported.
The paper noted that such private donations are prohibited by law, so it repeatedly hounded the DPH for names of the alleged donors.
“No such record currently exists,” the DPH later admitted, according to the New York Post.
According to public records, the DPH had used $3,795.98 to buy beer and vodka for the homeless people living in the city’s hotels as of June 16, the New York Post reported.
“I just found out that homeless placed in hotels in SF are being delivered Alcohol, Weed and Methadone because they identified as an addict/alcoholic for FREE,” chemical dependency counselor Thomas Wolf tweeted back on May 1. “You’re supposed to be offering treatment. This is enabling and is wrong on many levels.”
Much to the surprise of many, the San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted back and confirmed that that the city was giving alcohol and drugs to the quarantined homeless – for free – but said it wasn’t being paid for with taxpayer dollars.
“These harm reduction based practices, which are not unique to San Francisco, and are not paid for with taxpayer money, help guests successfully complete isolation and quarantine and have significant individual and public health benefits in the COVID-19 pandemic,” the health department tweeted at the time.
According to the New York Post, at least part of the DPH’s statement was a lie.
The State of California launched “Project Roomkey” following the country’s initial stay-at-home order on March 16, Business Insider reported.
Over 10,000 hotel rooms were procured in order to house homeless individuals who had either tested positive for COVID-19, had been exposed to the virus, or who were awaiting test results.
The DPH argued that buying drugs and alcohol for those staying in the free hotel rooms limited the spread of the novel coronavirus because addicts do not have to venture out in search of substances, according to Business Insider.
The DPH said that individuals provided with free lodging are “screened multiple times to determine what substances they would be uncomfortable without,” Business Insider reported.
The department also provides such individuals with the option of meeting with addiction specialists.
“This period in our care has allowed some people to connect for the first time with addiction treatment,” DPH touted in a statement to Business Insider.
According to the New York Post, San Francisco has also been placing homeless individuals in hotels intended to house only front-line workers.
In those cases, they have allegedly labeled homeless people as front-line workers when they clearly are not, the New York Post reported.
City officials have blocked the media from accessing information about the hotel “guests,” as well as a list of participating hotels, by referencing the emergency-disaster law, according to the New York Post.
“Disclosure of the names of hotels where people are being sheltered could jeopardize the privacy and safety of the vulnerable people whom the City has placed there if the public and the press become aware of the circumstances of their placement and could increase the risk that they will be subject to discrimination or harassment on the basis of their health status or status as an unsheltered person,” the Department of Emergency Management told the New York Post.
According to the paper, hotel workers and city employees are required to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from discussing anything they witness at the hotels.
They face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine if they violate those signed agreements, the New York Post reported.
The media is not allowed inside any of the participating hotels.
The results have been nothing shy of chaotic.
Drug activity, vagrancy and criminal acts have increased around many of the city’s hotels, the New York Post reported.
Sources told the paper that illegal drug use is commonplace inside the establishments, and that it is commonplace for “guests” to trash their rooms.
At one hotel, people are encouraged to call the front desk before they inject drugs due to four recent overdose deaths, the New York Post reported.
Used syringes have allegedly been discarded haphazardly around the premises, according to the New York Post’s sources.
In addition to their free rooms, those staying at the hotels also receive complementary meals, grooming supplies and laundry service.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has promised to help pay for some of the damages incurred by the hotels, according to the New York Post.
It is unclear what the city plans to do with the displaced homeless “guests” once the hotels return to normal business.