Tents heat a sidewalk on golden Gate way in mountain Francisco top top 18 April 2020. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP
Tents heat a sidewalk on golden Gate way in san Francisco on 18 April 2020. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP
Mayor London each other tells the Guardian the city is ramping up initiatives to broaden supportive housing for homeless people


San Francisco is poised to view a marked increase in funding and resources to address homelessness in the city, with regional officials optimistic that the efforts will end up being a transforming point in a ancient crisis.

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“We want to make certain that us get human being off the streets right into a safe, affordable location to speak to home. And also we’re in a great place to execute that,” the san Francisco mayor, London Breed, called the Guardian.

In a city of stark wide range disparities, where new tech millionaires frequently sidestep homeless encampments top top their method to patio brunches, homelessness has been among the many stubborn and also politically fraught issues, one in i m sorry housed voices often overtake unhoused voices in quality-of-life complaints quite than really solutions.

Both the city and also housing supporters agree the the new funding and resources carry out an possibility for change to truly take hold, yet advocates warn that will only happen when authorities work-related with the population it is trying come reach.

Homelessness in mountain Francisco exploded throughout the pandemic, with more tents than ever before popping up and more people dying in the streets in the first couple of months of the Covid-19 crisis than in previous years.

San Francisco met the emergency with initiatives to house more homeless individuals. In a city with an ext than 8,000 homeless human being at critical count, 1,730 civilization are currently temporarily housed in hotel rooms and up to 260 civilization live in ~ sanctioned encampments. Indigenous the hotel program, 204 extr people have transitioned into other housing options.

The city wants to develop on those efforts. Breed has attracted up a Homelessness Recovery plan centered on expanding housing options for homeless people. The setup provides for 6,000 placements and would view the city get 1,500 brand-new permanent supportive real estate units by the finish of 2023. The plan would also carry out rental vouchers for people who were recently homeless and also spend 3o% that their full income top top rent, allowing them to uncover housing transparent the city and the just Area.


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A man directs homeless civilization to food donations exterior the Glide Memorial Methodist church in the Tenderloin ar of mountain Francisco top top 20 in march 2020. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/ReutersMeanwhile, several resources sources are collection to come through. Funds because that homelessness services created by a 2018 measure the taxes wealthy carriers are finally accessible after prolonged litigation. The hotel room regimen that provided temporary housing for more than 2,200 individuals throughout the pandemic will certainly be fully reimbursed by the commonwealth government, and also the state the California has actually made obtainable funding to make several of that housing permanent.

As mountain Francisco ramps increase its efforts for donate housing, however, that is acquisition a more aggressive stance versus homeless encampments.

“When we market you an alternative to sleeping on the streets, we’re not going to let you be comfortable sleeping on the streets,” each other said. “We’re not going come let you set up a tent and collection up shop when we’re providing you a means out.”

The market went top top to allude at the industrial locations under the freeway and underpasses in mountain Francisco, wherein encampments once abounded however have recently been cleared. “Things are changing,” she said. “We have reduced tents to pre-Covid times. We don’t have big encampments.”

For numerous homeless people, though, the shift from an encampment to supportive housing isn’t always that easy, or clearcut. A mountain Francisco Public push investigation uncovered that nearly one in 10 the the city’s currently existing supportive real estate units satellite empty, through Abigail Stewart-Kahn, the previous interim director of the department of homelessness and supportive housing, put the blame on individuals not accepting their placements.


Breed called the Guardian the 15% the the people that city workers encounter encampments have actually hotel rooms, a number housing advocates have actually disputed.

But Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director that the Coalition ~ above Homelessness, stated there were plenty of reasons why an individual would certainly refuse a housing placement. It might not it is in wheelchair accessible. It might separate that human from a loved one. It can not allow a pet that ended up being like the person’s family on the streets. “When to represent of the device say people are service-resistant, what it have to be check out as is a device failure,” she said. “The system is failing come adequately offer a person.”

Linda Smith, 35, to be allocated a hotel room at the finish of November, grateful to have actually a location to shower and also a bed in which to sleep. But the hotel has actually a 10pm curfew the she consistently has to miss if she wants to earn sufficient money make DoorDash deliveries. “I started working because that DoorDash to acquire some kind of revenue to follow the measures to obtain permanent housing,” smith said. “I make the efforts to talk to my building manager around it and also he said ‘nope, if she not ago by 10 o’clock, you can not get ago in till 7 in the morning’. For this reason what else can I do however pitch a tent?”

Hotel rule prevented she from receiving visitors, she said. She missed she friends at she encampment, and also her boyfriend, who couldn’t obtain a room. “I’m very thankful that I have actually a roof over my head and I have somewhere to obtain rest when it’s needed, however it’s no an encouraging environment,” smith said. “They’re making it tough to live a normal life. Execute you desire me to have actually a job? Or do you desire me to sit in mine room every day and do nothing?”

Smith commonly returned come the encampment whereby she previously lived to inspect on her boyfriend, Jay.


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Tents set up ~ above a sidewalk in mountain Francisco top top 21 November 2020. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/APJay passed away from an overdose in his tent in January. In the days before, he had actually seemed depressed and also distant, smith said. “He just felt favor I to be leaving him,” she said.

Distraught, Smith spent the next couple of days crying uncontrollably in your tent. “I wasn’t even able to really store track of time,” she said. “I was simply in denial. The didn’t even settle in the I had lost mine partner. I just felt favor if I retained believing it no true, climate it i will not ~ be true.”

Smith to be still in the tent when days later, a public works crew come to clean the encampment. “I hadn’t also gone through any type of of his things. Ns hadn’t gone with my tent. I was simply stuck in disbelief,” smith said.

With the aid of other encampment residents, blacksmith packed Jay’s thing on come a roll-away cart, and also was wheeling the dare away once the male in charge stopped her. “He goes, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, where space you going v that’?” blacksmith said. “I said, ‘I’m trying to get my stuff far so you have the right to clean’. And he claimed you’re not taking that stuff away. It’s all going in the trash’.”

The crew tore open up her bags, she said, and threw every little thing into piles. “The totality time ns hysterically crying, pleading v him, ‘please don’t do this, you nothing understand, i haven’t even had a chance to go v his things,’” smith recalled. “And they simply started throwing mine belongings right into the trash compactor.”

Smith continued: “One guy even had the nerve to shout to me, ‘Lady, you have to stay turn off the dope’ as to why i was crying hysterically. No, ns wasn’t crying hysterically since I to be high top top dope. Ns was crying hysterically due to the fact that you were dealing with me prefer I to be nothing and you’re acting prefer you’re enjoying it.”

When asked around bad actions during sweeps and also how such poor behavior might lead to mistrust that the city and city services, breed spoke extremely of public works crews who had close relationships through homeless individuals and argued part unhoused world treat the public works crews poorly.

“When who says, ‘Oh, i don’t to trust the city’ if we’re offering help, us can’t carry out anything around that.”

We have actually an chance to really relocate the dial ~ above homelessnessJennifer FriedenbachShe was likewise insistent that encampment residents displaced through sweeps were available housing.

That’s no been the suffer of every homeless individual impacted by the sweeps. Brian Martin, 42, said he was never available housing as soon as he woke up to a crew slashing a knife v the tarp of his framework in March. Police policemans handcuffed Martin and also his tentmate while the crew took their belongings, he said, including an orthopedic foot brace he requirements after six ago surgeries and a cane. Once he told them he needed his brace, “They said me shut my mouth,” the said.

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With the assist of housing advocates, Martin had the ability to secure a temporary sanctuary bed. Yet he still can not walk. “I limp my means around,” that said.

Breed said she can not celebrate any success while civilization still sleep ~ above the streets. “When I view someone that is resting on the streets, whether ns am market or not, ns a person being. I feel really dreadful that this person is no able come walk into a room and also sleep ~ above a bed. My goal is to try to make that possible.”

Friedenbach that the Coalition on Homelessness said she hoped the the city might meet this minute for change. “We have an possibility to really relocate the dial on homelessness, but it’s walking to take it political management to yes, really be cursed to it,” she said. “It’s going come take developing relationships with people on the streets to save track that them for this reason when housing opens up, you deserve to move them in. The going to take tough work driven by love and empathy. That has to come v on all levels.”