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Environmental Health

Hotel & Emergency Shelter Program

Specialist Environmental Health Inspectors conduct regular health and safety inspections and responds to tenants' complaints in Hotels and Shelters. Staff also provide training/educational materials to tenants and landlords and connects tenants to other support services.

To Report a Complaint: Contact Veronica Hoe, 415-252-3866, veronica.hoe@sfdph.org

Since 1984, Environmental Health has addressed sanitation concerns in the:

  • City's residential hotels
  • Emergency shelters
  • Transitional
  • Drop-in centers
  • Drug treatment centers
  • Single-Room-Occupancy hotels  (S.R.O. Hotels)

"The typical Single-Room-Occupancy rental unit does not have a bathroom / toilet or a kitchen. It is only a single room, usually equipped with a small hand sink and a bed. Tenants must necessarily share the 1 or 2 common area's toilet and shower facilities on each floor of the building. Rooms in an SRO hotel can vary from beautiful or tidy to overcrowded, pest-infested and uninhabitable. The pleasant environment one occupant works hard to achieve and maintain can be impinged upon by a neighboring tenant's case of severe rodent or cockroach infestation, odiferous room condition or water and sewage overflow. In any case, the property owner, operator or management firm is responsible for maintaining the premises' sanitation and safety."

 Department of Public Works Division of Apartment & Hotel Inspections deals with safety and construction issues. Inspectors must still continue to respond to any health-related complaints relative to boarding houses and tourist type hotels and motels. The Housing Program's goal, then, is to ensure that all facilities within its purview maintain safe, sanitary and habitable conditions at all times. The hotel inspection program unit inspects all designated to ensure they are maintained in safe, sanitary and habitable conditions at all times. The hotel inspection unit also responds to complaints in all hotels, motels and boarding houses in the City & County of SF.

San Francisco City & County is one county among only a handful in the United States whose Environmental Health / Department of Health agency includes a housing program to address sanitation needs of residential tenants. In most jurisdictions, housing concerns are usually within the purview of Department of Building Inspections or Public Works.

With just 2 full-time Senior Inspectors, the program has a current inventory of 23 emergency family shelters, 2 drop-in centers and 118 Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) hotels. All these facilities are continually inspected. The frequency of inspections is determined by annual baseline (comprehensive inspections) site visits that establish a rating. The frequency of visits varies - referrals from City & County agencies are prioritized. All complaints are investigated promptly. At times, the overwhelming number of walk-in, phone-in and written complaints make it difficult to maintain the frequency of regular site visits. However, the occasional letter of thanks or the appreciative phone call from complainants for improving their living conditions makes the Program's efforts all the more worthwhile.