Day: October 23, 2020

S.F. hotel near Union Square to be converted to homeless housing with state grant

California provided funding for four more homeless housing projects in the Bay Area on Friday, including the conversion of a 130-room hotel in San Francisco.



a sign in front of a building: The Hotel Diva near Union Square in San Francisco will be converted supportive housing for homeless people using a $29 million grant from the state.


© Stephanie Wright Hession /

The Hotel Diva near Union Square in San Francisco will be converted supportive housing for homeless people using a $29 million grant from the state.


The projects were included in a sixth round of grants for Homekey, a state program using federal coronavirus relief money to buy hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings that can quickly be turned into supportive housing for homeless people

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the awards during a visit to San Jose to tout the Legislature’s recent approval of an additional $200 million for the program. The state originally put $600 million toward the effort in the budget in June.

Homelessness “was our preexisting condition before the pandemic of COVID-19,” Newsom said during a news conference. “We are not walking away from our commitment, not taking our eye off the ball at all.”

About $709 million has now been awarded to 78 projects across 45 cities and counties, Newsom said, which will ultimately provide 5,068 units of housing.

But that accounts for just a fraction of California’s homeless population, which surged to more than 151,000 people in the most recent count last year, including more than 108,000 who are unsheltered. The pandemic may have driven that higher as millions of people lost their jobs.

In recent months, California rented more than 16,000 hotel and motel rooms for homeless people who were exposed or were particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Now that program, known as Project Roomkey, is coming to an end across the state, raising concerns that many of those people could wind up back on the streets.

“None of us suggested that we could match that in terms of permanency, but we are committed to each and every individual,” Newsom said. “We’re working with every single county, every jurisdiction that’s in partnership with Project Roomkey to identify the answer.”

San Francisco received a $29 million grant from the state Friday to buy the Hotel Diva near Union Square and convert it to permanent housing with supportive services. It is San Francisco’s second Homekey award, after a $45 million grant that the city received last month to buy the Granada Hotel, a 232-room single resident occupancy building.

“We pursued additional Homekey state funding to ensure that the thousands of people who have been in our emergency housing during this public health crisis exit into stable housing placements,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

The state gave Oakland more than $17 million Friday for two projects — one to buy the former Hotel Travelers downtown, which has 82 single resident occupancy units, and another to convert the Inn at Temescal, a motel near where Interstates 580 and 980 merge, into 21 units of supportive housing, with a priority for veterans. The city received another $20 million last month to buy a former college dormitory

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Top Canada Pension Fund Hunts for Deals In ‘Cheap’ Travel Sector

A worker paints a child’s face while holding up a protective barrier at the Legoland theme park in Winter Haven, Florida, U.S., in June. The theme park chain is one of CPP Investment Board’s tourism-related investments.

Photographer: Eve Edelheit/Bloomberg

Canada’s national pension fund is looking at deals in the travel industry, confident that it will enjoy a strong recovery when the Covid-19 pandemic eases, says its chief executive.

“Hotels aren’t over, cruises aren’t over, flying’s not over — these things are going to come back,” Mark Machin, CEO of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg. “So I’m supportive of teams if they find decent opportunities in those areas.”

The country’s largest pension fund, which has C$434 billion ($331 billion) of assets under management, hasn’t made any investments in the sector since the pandemic hit but is “keenly looking at some things,” Machin said. More than 20% of the fund is in private equity.

Its private holdings include ownership stakes in Spain’s Hotelbeds Group SL and Britain’s Merlin Entertainments Ltd., which runs Legoland theme parks and other attractions in 25 countries. It’s also an investor in Las Vegas-based Diamond Resorts International Inc., which it acquired as part of Apollo Global Management Inc.’s takeover of Diamond in 2016.

“Valuations are quite cheap. We’ve never bought an airline so I’m not suggesting we’d invest in airlines at this point,” Machin said. But other firms are — Bain Capital LP rescued Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. in a deal with creditors to restructure the business, which fell into administration in April.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities. Machin said it’s unlikely that travel and hospitality-related companies will see their business recover to pre-pandemic levels soon, even if pharmaceutical companies are successful in producing a Covid-19 vaccine next year. It will take a while for public confidence to grow, he said — but it will recover.

“I personally am a believer in us all being social beings,” Machin said. “I don’t think we’re all going to be sitting isolated for the rest of our lives.”

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Tens of thousands arrive in Hawaii with pre-travel testing

Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii's tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.
Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.Marco Garcia/AP

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program, a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again amid the pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday that 58,611 people had been screened since the Oct. 15 launch. Of those visitors — including returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others — 49,791 tested negative for the coronavirus and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.

People who can produce a negative test result within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii are eligible. Test results from one of the state’s “trusted partners” — a group of clinics, pharmacies and airlines — must be uploaded to a government website upon arrival.

Some people came to Hawaii with the wrong kind of test. The state accepts only negative nucleic acid amplification tests. Other travelers chose to come to Hawaii without being tested at all.


Nearly 7,300 people on the first week’s flights were ordered to quarantine.

On Oahu, the state’s most populated island and home of Waikiki Beach, police issued about 8,400 warning and 885 citations for people not wearing masks or other coronavirus-related violations since Oct. 15, the first day of the testing program.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this report.

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Feds: New Haven man used hotel room to process, package drugs

NEW HAVEN — A city man faces years in federal prison after being indicted this week on drug distribution and gun possession charges, officials said.

Authorities said Joel Martinez, 22, was indicted Monday by a federal grand jury in New Haven.

The indictment charged Martinez with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The first count carries a maximum of 40 years in prison, the second a maximum of 20 years, the third a maximum of five years and the fourth carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least five years, authorities said.

According to court documents, authorities on Sept. 17 raided a New Haven hotel room, which they say Martinez used to “process and package narcotics.”

Investigators said they seized a loaded 9 mm pistol with an obliterated serial number, a box of 9 mm ammunition, about 74 grams of crack cocaine, about 150 grams of heroin and $1,825 in cash. Authorities said investigators also seized 12 digital scales, three blenders and other items used to process and package narcotics.

Martinez was arrested on state charges that day.

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Bella Hadid and Fanny look happy during beach vacation to celebrate the model’s 24th birthday

Bella Hadid and friend Fanny look happy during beach vacation to celebrate the model’s 24th birthday in new throwbacks photos

Bella Hadid and her best friend, Fanny Bourdette-Donon, looked happier than ever on a sun-soaked vacation in throwbacks photos from her epic birthday getaway.

After sharing shots of herself epitomizing beach glamour for a Versace shoot over the summer, the catwalk star, 24, continued to reminisce over swimsuit season.

While the stunner opted not to tag her location, the bikini-clad duo appeared to be blissfully floating in Caribbean-style waters, as they displayed their trim figures. 

Sunnier days: Bella Hadid and her best friend, Fanny Bourdette-Donon, appeared happier than ever on a sun-soaked vacation in throwbacks photos on Instagram

Sunnier days: Bella Hadid and her best friend, Fanny Bourdette-Donon, appeared happier than ever on a sun-soaked vacation in throwbacks photos on Instagram

As Bella donned a tiny white two-piece, she had one arm wrapped around her pal’s shoulders and was completely relaxed on the water’s surface.

For their swim, the honorary ‘sister’ of one of the world’s biggest supermodels rocked a leopard print thong bikini, which showed off her envy-inducing midriff. 

The pair were beaming as they enjoyed the warm tropical breeze and posed for another picture standing in the water with gleeful expressions across their faces. 

Tropical getaway: After sharing shots of herself epitomizing beach glamour for a Versace shoot over the summer, the catwalk star, 24, continued to reminisce over swimsuit season

Tropical getaway: After sharing shots of herself epitomizing beach glamour for a Versace shoot over the summer, the catwalk star, 24, continued to reminisce over swimsuit season

In a close-up of her face, the Vogue cover girl’s eyes were shut and she looked perfectly sun-kissed with rosy cheeks and a few freckles on her makeup free face. 

Additionally, while running a hand through her wet tresses, she flashed a wrist full of stunning gold bracelets, which coordinated with the chain around her neck. 

During her fun-filled birthday excursion earlier this month, they also partied with pals Devon Lee Carlson, Jesse Jo Stark and Alana O’Herlihy, before returning to NYC. 

Best friends: As she donned a tiny white two-piece, Hadid had one arm wrapped around her pal's shoulders and relaxed on the water's surface

Best friends: As she donned a tiny white two-piece, Hadid had one arm wrapped around her pal’s shoulders and relaxed on the water’s surface

Just weeks ago, the Victoria’s Secret model also became a first-time aunt, after her elder sister, Gigi, welcomed a baby girl with her beau Zayn Malik.  

Gigi confirmed her pregnancy on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in late April.

Meanwhile Bella’s representative recently denied rumors she is dating Jack Nicholson’s grandson Duke, telling E! News she is ‘single and not in a relationship.’ 

Birthday girl: Her fun-filled birthday excursion also included pals Devon Lee Carlson, Jesse Jo Stark and Alana O'Herlihy

Birthday girl: Her fun-filled birthday excursion also included pals Devon Lee Carlson, Jesse Jo Stark and Alana O’Herlihy

Aunt Bella: Late last month, Bella also became a first-time aunt, after her elder sister, Gigi, welcomed a baby daughter with her beau Zayn Malik

Aunt Bella: Late last month, Bella also became a first-time aunt, after her elder sister, Gigi, welcomed a baby daughter with her beau Zayn Malik

On Wednesday, Bella reposted a checklist of how her ‘goals have changed’ including ‘getting married when I am ready’ rather than before age 30 and ‘finding someone who I deeply connect with’ rather than the most attractive.

Hadid has been single ever since ending her on/off romance with three-time

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Laid-off hotel workers rally after health insurance yanked: ‘We’ve been thrown out like yesterday’s garbage’

About 150 hotel workers who’d been laid off — but promised their jobs back when the hotel industry rebounds — gathered in Grant Park Friday to call on their employers to continue providing health insurance.

They are among about 7,000 Chicago hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 who are out of work and, since Oct. 1, without health insurance.

“I have really, really bad arthritis and only four pills left, and I have a daughter who needs her braces taken off,” said Shawan Johnson, 41, who worked turning over rooms at the Hilton Chicago for six years until she was laid off in March.

“When you work for a company for many, many years and once a pandemic hits they just say, ‘Well, forget it, no more healthcare, no more anything.’ … It’s like insult to injury,” said Johnson.

Jesus Morales, who’d worked as a banquet server at the Drake Hotel for 33 years until he lost his job in March, said he’s in a tough spot because his wife, who had brain surgery a few years ago, and daughter, who was recently in a car accident, both depend on him for health insurance.

“We have spent years and decades of our lives working for these companies, and now we’ve been thrown out like yesterday’s garbage,” he said. “They should be ashamed of how they’re treating us.”

Jesus Morales, a banquet server at The Drake, took part in a rally with other hotel workers who are demanding health insurance in the Loop, Friday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2020. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The crowd chanted, “We deserve better!” before marching under a light drizzle several blocks around the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave.

The majority of workers represented by the union are women of color, according to Unite Here spokeswoman Sarah Lyons. The workers are, in part, room attendants, bartenders, cooks, servers, bellmen and doormen.

Hotel workers and their supporters march to demand health insurance in the Loop, Friday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2020. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Their jobs are spread among dozens of hotels, but the largest chunk of them work for the Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains, Lyons said.

Representatives of the three hotel groups did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Luxury housing market inspires ‘total frenzy’ in vacation-home boom towns like Aspen, Palm Beach and Lake Tahoe

In the third quarter, luxury home sales jumped 41.5%, the biggest year-over-year shift since 2013, according to Redfin. And while real estate agents repping luxury homes aren’t seeing as many bidding wars as they did this summer, the message across the company was the same: their respective markets are crazy right now.

“What we’re seeing here in Palm Beach is a total frenzy,” Dana Koch, a sales associate with Corcoran Group, the Koch Team in Palm Beach, told HousingWire. “I’ve had many conversations with clients of mine from late April through early July, the margin was total pandemonium. And, since early July to now, it’s just getting very busy.”

A recent report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel revealed that the average home price in Q3 in Palm Beach was $7 million. Contracts during this time also skyrocketed 62%.

While the Palm Beach market has not seen a lot of bidding wars, Koch said that a lot of the inventory has been absorbed and properties are getting multiple offers.

Since it’s a summer destination, Palm Beach’s busy season for home-buying starts on Nov. 1, and runs through May 1. Koch said that since this summer — typically the home-buying off-season — was busy for buyers, he thinks it will only get crazier.

“We normally average roughly like $200 plus million on an annual basis, and during the first three quarters, we’ve sold $350 million worth of real estate,” Koch said. “So it’s been a crazy year. It’s been a very profitable year.”


NAMB leads brokers in advocating for consumer data privacy

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers has been advocating for mortgage brokers for almost 50 years. We spoke with NAMB’s President and NAMB’s lobbyist about the organization’s past and current legislative efforts.

Presented by: NAMB

Over where the weather is colder, Steven Shane, a Compass real estate agent in Aspen, Colorado, said that buyers are coming from all over Texas, Florida, New York and California.

Shane said that schools in Aspen have increased their enrollment, as families are putting their roots down where they can have more space.

“I think that there’s a lot of people who rented, put their kids into school, and now, interest rates are so low, if you think about it, it makes a heck of a lot more sense to buy something than to pay rent,” Shane said. “So a lot of the people who came here initially may have rented just to get a place and now are looking to buy a home.”

From hiking to skiing and fishing, Shane said that people want to be able to get out and be able to stretch their legs if they’re working from home, and they can do that in Aspen.

“People learned that they can work from anywhere,” Shane said. “For the most part, people can work remotely, and their children might be attending school remotely. So why not be in Aspen, Greenwich, Connecticut, or the Hamptons?”

Speaking of the Hamptons, as

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Estes Park’s Stanley Hotel putting up hundreds of firefighters

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is famous for inspiring Stephen King’s horror classic “The Shining.”

ESTES PARK, Colo. — The historic hotel made famous by “The Shining” will be known to hundreds of firefighters for something decidedly less spooky.

The Stanley Hotel said it is putting up 380 firefighters who are helping to battle the East Troublesome Fire, which has caused hundreds of evacuations in Estes Park and closed Rocky Mountain National Park to the public.

Some of those firefighters were from Denver and Aurora Fire. In a tweet, the Denver Fire Department said its crews were treated to a dinner on Thursday night.

RELATED: East Troublesome Fire updates: Challenging weather expected Friday

RELATED: Colorado wildfires: How you can help those impacted

RELATED: Photos show red skies in Estes Park, smoke plume visible from Front Range as East Troublesome Fire grows

The Stanley Hotel shared a video on Facebook of firefighters congregating in its lobby.


For what it’s worth, according to Google’s hotel booking tool, a room at the Stanley for Sunday night would cost $299 a night to the general public.

The East Troublesome Fire grew by more than 100,000 acres from Wednesday to Thursday, and is now straddling both sides of the Continental Divide at 170,163 acres. It is the second largest fire in Colorado history, behind the nearby Cameron Peak Fire, which is now more than 206,000 acres.

Estes Park, the home of the Stanley Hotel, is closed to all incoming traffic. Roads are open to evacuees.

The 142-room Stanley Hotel built in 1909. Part of its fame comes from horror legend Stephen King, who said he was inspired to write “The Shining” after staying there near the end of the season, when they were the only guests.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Wildfires in Colorado 


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Ready To Get Out Of Town? How And Where To Travel In 2021

Most of us have been quarantining for almost nine months, waiting for a safe vaccine, and jones-ing to travel again. “If this year has taught us anything, it’s that travel is a privilege and not a right,” says James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel. “There is still so much uncertainty about where we will be able to travel to, but we must start reimagining how we go. We need to travel with a deeper understanding that travel is more than a holiday. It’s a way to critically support local communities around the world if we do it in the right ways.” The adventure travel company is proposing five foundations for the future of travel.

Go slow: Travelers are looking to unpack their bags just once and spend more time in a single destination away from crowds, Think of it as a Retreat. You can choose a destination just a few hours’ drive or a short flight from home. But the intrepid adventurer prefers an exotic destination and might want to fly to a quaint and safe little island such Lastovo Island on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia.

In this small village, locals still catch fresh seafood for dinner and make their own wine with locally grown grapes. Swim in the glistening waters of the Adriatic or wander around the rustic stone port. Lastovo was once occupied by the Venetians, and there is stunning Venetian architecture everywhere. Soak up the history and culture. Take a fishing trip with a local fisherman and enjoy a seafood lunch. Try an island bike ride or a wine-tasting trip. But do it all slowly and really savor the ambience. This is, after all, a retreat.

Go into the wild: Now is the time to plan for that  life-changing bucket list trip. Antarctica, the last of the untamed landscapes, allows you to get up close with different breeds of penguins, elephant seals, whales and more. Or, try the Galapagos Islands to watch spiky marine iguanas, albatross takeoffs and the mating dance of the blue-footed booby. Prefer the Big Five? Then choose an African Safari and feast your eyes on the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. And for a close encounter of the Gorilla kind, go see these majestic animals on a Gorilla trek in Uganda.

Go your way:  With travel restrictions, customization and flexibility are key. Prefer to travel in your own little pod or perhaps, solo? Try a Tailor-Made trip and see what you want on your terms. Think Egypt for a private trip to the Pyramids, ride a camel and shop the souks in Morocco, visit the Temple to the Sun in Mexico – the choices are limitless. Spin the globe and decide what you want: culture? History? Adventure? The world is yours for the taking.

Go on a human-powered adventure:, Last year,

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Health unit tweaks new rules to keep sports and recreation facilities open

LONDON, ONT. —
The Middlesex-London Health Unit has modified new rules announced on Wednesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which will allow many sports to continue.

“We want to make sure these sports can continue as much as possible,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie.

Fears were rampant throughout the sports community that the strict safety measures would sideline sports and potentially put some recreation facilities out of business.

“What’s become clear is that we need to tweak them so that we don’t disrupt sport,” Mackie said.

The revisions were shared during a virtual townhall meeting Friday afternoon for sports, recreation and fitness facility stakeholders.

“If we want to stay in a situation where we can continue to have team sports, we need to take action to prevent the spread,” Mackie said.

Among the adjustments to the Section 22 Class Order for Indoor Fitness Facilities, the total number of people permitted in a class at a facility cannot exceed 12. The maximum number of people allowed on a field of play, such as an ice pad or soccer field, is 25. For team sports with substitutions, a maximum of 12 people are allowed on the roster, and player waiting on the sidelines must maintain a two metre distance from one another.

Mackie says no contact is allowed between individuals during any play and that means there will be zero tolerance for any touching.

“When you are that close, you are entering a high-risk situation. It doesn’t matter if that’s a normal part of your sport, there’s no contact.”

Parents, athletes, coaches and owners of numerous sports facilities are expressing some relief.

“It’s definitely a positive move,” said the VP of Hockey Operations for The London Junior Knights, Kevin Gardner.

“We can work with it,” he said.

However, there is still some uncertainty about how the rules will be implemented and how they will play out on the ice. Still, Gardner says he’s pleased that the health unit has listened to the community’s concerns.

“It was a groundswell of all sports in the community that made the change, and the health unit listened, so that’s great.”

The Junior Knights have ice time scheduled for this Saturday and plan to implement the new rules.

“We want to follow the rules. We don’t want anyone to get sick,” said Gardner. But the unexpected changes, with no notice, came as a huge shock.

“That’s what upset everyone.”

Hundreds of stakeholders of indoor sports and recreation facilities, including volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics associations, as well as health clubs and yoga studios, took part in the town hall with health officials answering questions about how the new rules will impact them.

The health unit’s revised restrictions on gyms come after more than 70 people tested positive at a fitness studio in Hamilton. Officials say the studio was following all public health guidelines when the outbreak occurred.

Mackie says the orders are meant to avoid a situation where there are gaps in the rules

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