Deadline expires for homeless at San Francisco tent city
Feb. 27, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A city deadline for homeless people to vacate a San Francisco tent city came and went Friday evening with no action.
About 30 tents remained in place at the 5 p.m. deadline city officials gave the homeless living there to clear out, Sam Dodge, the mayor's point person on homelessness said.
City officials and the San Francisco Police have not said what they intend to do with the recalcitrant tent residents.
City officials on Tuesday evening gave the residents of the tent city 72 hours to move after declaring the area along a busy San Francisco street a health hazard. At its height, some 140 tents populated the area, drawing complaints residents and businesses.
San Francisco has long had a problem housing its homeless, but tensions have been exacerbated by a shortage of affordable housing amid a tech-based jobs boom.
Earlier this month, a founder of a technology startup posted a letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee complaining that he "shouldn't have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people" on his way to work.
The letter, which went viral, was soundly mocked on social media for its whiny lack of sensitivity but writer Justin Keller is not alone in demanding the city do more about homelessness.
People who live near the tent city, for example, testified at a city hall hearing on Thursday that they were afraid to step outside their homes due to aggressive behavior. The tents are along Division Street, a multi-lane thoroughfare that divides two rapidly developing neighborhoods, the South of Market and Mission districts.
The homeless and their advocates say they need more services and homes for the unhoused. An estimated 3,500 people sleep on the streets of San Francisco each night.
"I'm not going to let somebody run me out of somewhere where I've made my home," said camper Patrita Tripp, as she dished cold beef pasta out of a can earlier this week. "Where am I supposed to go?"
On Friday morning, city workers sprayed bleach and power-washed one side of the street as campers packed up some half-dozen tents. City outreach workers are prodding many to move into a large canopy shelter on Pier 80 that has 150 sleeping mats.
The health department posted notices Tuesday evening, calling the encampments a public nuisance and ordering people to leave within 72 hours. On Thursday, health officials posted a notice for homeless campers to vacate a neighboring area.
It's uncertain what will happen to campers who refuse the order.