Oakland Hotels Prep to House Homeless Amid Coronavirus

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As people in the Bay Area are ordered to shelter in place thousands don’t have homes to hunker down in.

The homeless out on the street are at the highest risk during the coronavirus outbreak and Oakland hotels are gearing up to take them in. 

“Confused, scared,” said Cesar Lepe. “I can do nothing, just wait,”

That’s how Lepe and his friend Leonardo Quintero are feeling as they face the coronavirus scare while homeless.

The two are sheltering-in-place in their makeshift house in East Oakland. The encampment is filled with folks doing what they can to stay virus-free, in very unsanitary conditions.

“In the night time, a bunch of rats,” said Pepe Colmenero. “Sometimes I can’t sleep because rats, making a bunch of noise.”

The city is placing new hand washing stations and porta potties with hand sanitizer at the encampments to try to protect folks.

“They’re definitely a big help for the whole community over here with the virus going on,” said Brent Schipp. “They say social distancing.”

Homeless advocates worry about what will happen if the virus starts sweeping through the homeless population. Already one homeless man in Santa Clara County has died from the COVID-19.

“People who are homeless often don’t get the care they need,” said Heather Freinkel from the Homeless Action Center.

But the state is taking action.They’ve already embarked two Oakland hotels to house the homeless. Nearly 400 rooms are read for check in for up to a three-month stay. 

“A clean bed and a hot shower is something we don’t get on a daily basis,” said Shipp. “ A continental breakfast, something else we don’t get it definitely would be something everybody out here would take.”

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