COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program

Learn about temporary Alternative Shelter Programs opened during the City’s response to the COVID-19 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.  

As we shifted from response to recovery, the City closed the COVID-19 Alternative Shelter Program in June 2021. Starting July 1, 2021, many of the programs opened during the 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 four 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 

  4. Safe Sleep sites 

The Safe Sleep program will continue after the COVID-19 response winds down. Because this program is now part of the City’s normal shelter operations, the information and data on this page does not cover Safe Sleep.

The dashboard below shows the total number of people served by the SIP, congregate, and IQ programs. 

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

Data notes and sources

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. 

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. Before the pandemic, the City already supported many homeless shelters. During the pandemic, these sites could not safely shelter as many people as they did originally. COVID-19 reduced the existing system’s capacity by about 70% at the onset of the pandemic 

The Alternative Shelter Program implemented life-saving changes to keep guests in congregate shelter safe during the pandemic and offer additional shelter capacity. These changes included: 

  • Re-designing existing congregate shelters in line with safety protocols.

  • Creating a new 200-bed congregate shelter site.   

At its peak, the COVID-19 Command Center(CCC) operated 1,072 congregate shelter beds in several existing facilities and one new site. In addition to beds operated by the CCC, other beds in the traditional homeless shelter program continued to run during the pandemic.   

As of June 2021, the City closed one new congregate shelter site created during the COVID-19 response. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing now operates all other congregate shelter sites.  

See the HSH Shelter page for more details about 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.  

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 during the initial COVID-19 response from July 2020 to June 2021.

Click the buttons at the top to switch between:

  • SIP hotel, SIP trailer, and SIP congregate shelter guests
  • IQ site guests

Get updated demographic information for guests served in the SIP Hotel Program.

Click the buttons at the top to switch between:

  • SIP hotel, SIP trailer, and SIP congregate shelter guests
  • IQ site guests


Data notes and sources

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.