COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program

Learn about new temporary homeless shelters and hotels opened during the pandemic.

The City’s response to COVID-19 included an Alternative Shelter Program. This program provided temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The City used hotel rooms, trailers, congregate sites, and Safe Sleep tent sites. These spaces allowed residents to isolate, quarantine, or shelter-in-place. 

The City must move from response to recovery. This means closing the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program slowly and safely.

Starting July 1, 2021, many of the programs opened for COVID-19 response are now either: 

  • Closed   
  • Run by a City department 

The page below provides historical information about the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program from March 2020 through June 2021.

For more information:

Summary of the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program

The City ran three types of shelter in the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program: 

  1. Shelter-in-Place (SIP) sites 
  2. Congregate shelter sites  
  3. Isolation and Quarantine (IQ) sites 

The dashboard below shows the total number of people served by the program.

The dashboard below shows the total rooms available in each program at their highest capacity.

Data notes and sources

Total SIP hotel rooms and trailers is the number of contracted rooms at the peak of the program. This count removes the estimated number of contracted hotel rooms that were not available for guests.

Total congregate shelter beds is the number of beds in all 10 congregate shelters open during the pandemic. This includes the new and repurposed shelters.

Total Isolation and Quarantine hotel units and congregate beds is a sum of two numbers. The number of contracted hotels rooms plus the number of beds in the 1 IQ congregate shelter opened during the pandemic. This count removes the estimated number of contracted hotel rooms that were not available for guests.


Shelter-in-Place (SIP) sites

SIP sites provided safe places for people experiencing homelessness who may become very ill from COVID-19.  

Shelter-in-Place (SIP) sites included: 

  • Private hotels 
  • Trailers 

The first SIP sites opened in April 2020. The sites stopped accepting new guests in June 2021. The City is now helping guests find stable exits and will begin closing hotels after guests exit.  

Find out more information about SIP guests and where they are going next. 

The City managed as many as 2,408 SIP hotel rooms and trailers during the COVID-19 response.  

Congregate shelter sites

A congregate site includes shared living spaces. To find congregate sites for the pandemic, the City: 

  • Re-designed existing congregate shelter sites with fewer guests and safer spacing 
  • Created a new congregate shelter site 

Each site was run by the COVID-19 Command Center with support from other City agencies.  

At its peak, the COVID-19 Command Center operated 1,072 congregate shelter beds. This is in addition to the beds in the traditional homeless shelter program that continued to run during the pandemic.  

As of June 2021, the City closed 1 new congregate shelter site created during the COVID-19 response. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is operating all other congregate shelter sites. This includes those opened as part of the Alternative Shelter Program. 

See the Shelter Recovery page for more details about congregate shelters. 

Isolation and Quarantine sites

Isolation and Quarantine (IQ) sites provided safe places for people with COVID-19 to recover. Guests could isolate or quarantine away from others who might become ill if they remained at home. This included people who were homeless and living in shelters.   

Isolation & Quarantine (IQ) sites included: 

  • Private hotels 
  • A congregate site

Some of these options are no longer available. The City opened and closed IQ sites as COVID-19 cases increased and decreased over time. 

The City managed as many as 538 IQ hotel rooms and shelter beds. 

Front-Line City Workers 

The City launched a Front Line Worker Housing program in the early days of the pandemic. From March to August 2020, this program allowed 1,128 front-line workers to quarantine. After, City employees continued to have shelter options when needed. 

Demographics of the Alternative Shelter Program guests

The data below provides demographic information on the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program guests.

Click the buttons at the top to switch between:

  • SIP and congregate shelter sites guests
  • IQ site guests
Data notes and sources

Individuals who were guests in both an IQ site and a SIP or congregate shelter are counted in the demographics for both site types.

IQ sites collected race, ethnicity, and prior living situation data differently from SIP sites and congregate shelters. This is because of different State and Federal reporting requirements for each site type.