San Francisco may house its homeless community in shut-down schools and churches as a 'shelter in place' order goes into effect to contain the coronavirus

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A homeless man in San Francisco holds a sign asking for spare change.

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  • San Francisco is one of many Bay Area cities that is now under a three-week "shelter in place" order to prevent human contact and stifle the spread of the coronavirus disease.
  • The city's estimated 8,000 homeless individuals are exempt from the order and are encouraged to seek shelter until officials can figure out how to house them.
  • A few options may be to turn churches, state-owned properties, and closed school campuses in the city into temporary shelters.
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The city of San Francisco is one of many Bay Area cities that is now under a three-week "shelter in place" order in an effort to contain the coronavirus disease.

The order directs the region's estimated 6.7 million residents to remain indoors as much as possible and to only venture outside for essential needs. But the Bay Area' estimated 28,200 homeless individuals are exempt from the directive and are instead encouraged to seek shelter until officials can find ways to house them.

A few options for San Francisco, as The San Francisco Chronicle reports, could be to use the city's churches, state-owned facilities, and closed school campuses. As the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, continues to spread, having sheltered space is important to avoid contracting — and transmitting — the virus.

The San Francisco public school district was shut down for three weeks on March 13. The unoccupied campuses may be viable options to temporarily house those who are homeless. Churches have been asked to house homeless individuals as well.

Hotels in the city are also being looked at as potential makeshift shelters. Trent Rhorer, head of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, told the Chronicle that he has secured 500 hotel rooms so far as a means to get people off the streets. Those who have tested positive for the virus and need to be quarantined would have first priority.

A 2019 count placed the number of homeless individuals in San Francisco at 8,011. There are no confirmed deaths of the virus in the city's homeless population, but a man living in homelessness in Santa Clara County died of the coronavirus Monday.

Housing those living on the street is a challenge that officials across the Bay Area and the state are grappling with. As part of a multi-million-dollar statewide effort led by Gov. Gavin Newsom, two Oakland hotels have already been leased that will offer 400 rooms. Two San Mateo county hotels have also been leased, according to the Chronicle.

Those living on the streets are more at risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus. Many don't have the luxury of taking the recommended precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, like handwashing and keeping a distance from sick people, as Business Insider's Holly Secon reported.

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