News & Blogs San Francisco Wants Homeless to Leave Tent Camp, but Some Vow to Fight (1 Viewer)

Brother X

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by Thomas Fuller Feb. 26, 2016 original

SAN FRANCISCO — An order by the San Francisco authorities to vacate a sidewalk tent camp in a commercial district has rekindled passions over the city’s longstanding homeless problem, which residents say has reached crisis levels.

Some inhabitants of the encampment near a Costco and car dealerships say they will defy the city’s order to disperse by Friday, forcing a dilemma for San Francisco’s municipal government, which has until now sought to use gentle persuasion in its dealing with the large homeless population.

“I kind of want to stay put and fight it out,” said Elizabeth Stromer, a 45-year-old former nurse who lives in a tent not far from a BMW dealership on the edge of the city’s Mission District. She described the standoff as a “personal battle” between the homeless and the administration of Mayor Edwin M. Lee.

The city targeted 50 tents under a highway overpass — which shelter a small fraction of the more than 6,000 homeless people in the city — because of what it called the “accumulation of garbage, human feces, hypodermic needles, urine odors” and other unsanitary conditions.

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Activists walked down Division Street to a homeless encampment in San Francisco on Friday.
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The encampment “is hereby declared as a public nuisance,” the city’s Department of Public Health said in its order.

For years the homeless have been fixtures in neighborhoods across San Francisco, a jarring contrast to the tremendous wealth generated by the technology boom.

City officials say the problem has become more visible as real estate development in formerly rundown areas has pushed the homeless to the doorsteps of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods.

San Francisco, where average office rents are now higher than in Manhattan, has seen housing costs skyrocket in recent years.

Malia Cohen, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors, the city’s legislature, said that homelessness had reached a “crisis point.”

“It’s certainly become more aggressive,” she said. “I’ve seen feces thrown, panhandlers yelling. I’ve seen homeless people rejecting food, and saying, ‘No, I only take money.’ ”

At a passion-filled hearing on Thursday at San Francisco’s City Hall, both homeless and homeowners made impassioned pleas to legislators to resolve the issue.

A security guard was summoned when a homeless man who identified himself as Hector Torres took to the lectern and screamed that he had been thrown out of a shelter “like a dog.”

“I couldn’t even take a shower to come over here!” he yelled.

Mary Ann Mills, a San Francisco resident who described herself as a retired senior, told the hearing that her neighborhood had become unlivable.

“I can’t walk out my door,” she said. “We can’t keep the trash out of our area. I can’t walk my grandson down the street.”

Residents criticized the city government for giving tax breaks to technology companies like Twitter while not providing enough low-income housing. One woman said San Francisco had become “the most unequal city in the United States right now.”

The owner of a shop that sells vintage furniture and clothing, James Spinella, said that his shop and his home had both been broken into recently and that he had called the police when homeless people in his neighborhood began fighting with “chains and knives.”

“This past year has been absolutely horrible,” Mr. Spinella said in an interview after the hearing. “It’s the worst that anyone can remember over the past 20 years.”

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People lined up to speak during a hearing on homelessness at City Hall in San Francisco on Thursday.
Like many San Franciscans, he faulted the way the authorities have handled the growing problem, which is highly visible and startles tourists and residents alike. “The city has allowed this to get so extreme,” Mr. Spinella said. “They are harboring criminals — it’s not just a homeless situation anymore.”


The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for data on property crimes, but many residents report a steep increase in car break-ins.

The administration of Mayor Lee has increased the budget for homeless-related spending by $84 million over the past five years, to $242 million this year. More than half of that money is spent on housing for homeless families and programs that prevent evictions.

“It seems like a lot of resources, but it’s very limited in terms of the size of the need,” said Sam Dodge, an official in the mayor’s office charged with overseeing the homeless problem. Mr. Dodge, who spent six years working in the New York City Department of Homeless Services — which has a budget of more than $1 billion — said New York had a “vastly more resourced system.”

San Francisco offers free bus tickets out of the city to homeless people who are from out of town, checking first to make sure they have someone waiting for them at their destination. And over the past year, officials have sought to make some shelters more attractive by doing away with curfews, providing storage for belongings, allowing couples to sleep in the same bed and providing facilities for pets.

Dr. Joshua Bamberger, a physician and an expert on homelessness as the University of California, San Francisco, said that 15 percent to 20 percent of the homeless who sleep on the streets of San Francisco were mentally ill and that the city should focus efforts on housing them.

“We are not prioritizing our dollars toward the people who are sick,” he said.

Dr. Bamberger treats homeless people as part of his practice. “To watch mentally ill, medically frail seniors walk out of my office, knowing that they are going to be sleeping in the rain in San Francisco is heartbreaking,” he said. “It’s completely unacceptable in an advanced society.”

Also included among the city’s homeless population are drug users attracted by the city’s lax law enforcement and those drawn to California for its milder weather and the notion that the state is an El Dorado of job opportunities.

California, which has 12 percent of the country’s population, has more than 20 percent of the country’s homeless, according to Mr. Dodge.

In persuading the homeless to leave the streets, the San Francisco authorities face a mixture of mistrust and defiance from its homeless population.

Ms. Stromer, the former nurse, said she tried to get into one of the city’s homeless shelters but became disillusioned when her belongings went missing. When registering to enter the shelter, she handed over a silver locket for safekeeping that contained some of the cremated remains of a daughter who died in a car accident.

The administrators of the shelter lost a wooden box that contained the locket, she said.

“No one could figure out where it went.”

Ms. Stromer blames alcoholism for her slide into homelessness, and even though she has now quit drinking, she cannot envision returning to a more stable life.

“You can bounce back,” she said, “but you can’t erase the past.”
The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for data on property crimes, but many residents report a steep increase in car break-ins.

The administration of Mayor Lee has increased the budget for homeless-related spending by $84 million over the past five years, to $242 million this year. More than half of that money is spent on housing for homeless families and programs that prevent evictions.

“It seems like a lot of resources, but it’s very limited in terms of the size of the need,” said Sam Dodge, an official in the mayor’s office charged with overseeing the homeless problem. Mr. Dodge, who spent six years working in the New York City Department of Homeless Services — which has a budget of more than $1 billion — said New York had a “vastly more resourced system.”

San Francisco offers free bus tickets out of the city to homeless people who are from out of town, checking first to make sure they have someone waiting for them at their destination. And over the past year, officials have sought to make some shelters more attractive by doing away with curfews, providing storage for belongings, allowing couples to sleep in the same bed and providing facilities for pets.

Dr. Joshua Bamberger, a physician and an expert on homelessness as the University of California, San Francisco, said that 15 percent to 20 percent of the homeless who sleep on the streets of San Francisco were mentally ill and that the city should focus efforts on housing them.

“We are not prioritizing our dollars toward the people who are sick,” he said.

Dr. Bamberger treats homeless people as part of his practice. “To watch mentally ill, medically frail seniors walk out of my office, knowing that they are going to be sleeping in the rain in San Francisco is heartbreaking,” he said. “It’s completely unacceptable in an advanced society.”

Also included among the city’s homeless population are drug users attracted by the city’s lax law enforcement and those drawn to California for its milder weather and the notion that the state is an El Dorado of job opportunities.

California, which has 12 percent of the country’s population, has more than 20 percent of the country’s homeless, according to Mr. Dodge.

In persuading the homeless to leave the streets, the San Francisco authorities face a mixture of mistrust and defiance from its homeless population.

Ms. Stromer, the former nurse, said she tried to get into one of the city’s homeless shelters but became disillusioned when her belongings went missing. When registering to enter the shelter, she handed over a silver locket for safekeeping that contained some of the cremated remains of a daughter who died in a car accident.

The administrators of the shelter lost a wooden box that contained the locket, she said.

“No one could figure out where it went.”

Ms. Stromer blames alcoholism for her slide into homelessness, and even though she has now quit drinking, she cannot envision returning to a more stable life.

“You can bounce back,” she said, “but you can’t erase the past.”
 
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Mankini

I'm a d-bag and got banned.
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I declare San Fran an open city. smash tech. chase yuppies.

J'accuse! J'oppose.
 

salxtina

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"For years the homeless have been fixtures in neighborhoods across San Francisco, a jarring contrast to the tremendous wealth generated by the technology boom.

City officials say the problem has become more visible as real estate development in formerly rundown areas has pushed the homeless to the doorsteps of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods."

Colonial War and Mental Disorders:
Under the German occupation, the French remained men; under the French occupation, the German remained men. In Algeria there is not simply the domination but the decision, literally, to occupy nothing more than a territory. The Algerians, the veiled-women, the palm groves and the camels make up a landscape, the natural background to the human presence of the French.
Hostile nature, fundamentally rebellious, is in fact represented in the colonies by the bush, by mosquitoes, the natives and fever, and colonization is a success when all this indocile nature has finally been tamed. Railways across the bush, the draining of swamps, and erasing the political existence of the native population are in fact one and the same thing
.
 

Mankini

I'm a d-bag and got banned.
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yes!!! Salxtina. Please see Fanons Wretched of the Earth, everyone. You wont regret it.
 
OP
Brother X

Brother X

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Not to be outdone, L.A. joins the fray. ::depressed::
--------
L.A. is seizing tiny homes from the homeless

Escalating their battle to stamp out an unprecedented spread of street encampments, city officials have begun seizing tiny houses from homeless people in South Los Angeles.

Elvis Summers, who built and donated the structures, removed seven of the gaily painted wooden houses — which come with solar-powered lights and American flags — on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a scheduled city sweep.

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Summers, an L.A. resident who says he was once homeless, had placed them within encampments on overpasses along the 110 Freeway, for homeless people to use instead of tents.

But three structures impounded earlier this month remain in a city storage lot, a Bureau of Sanitation spokeswoman said, and the city notified occupants they would be “discarded.”

"These people are beaten down so hard, you give them any opportunity to be normal, it lifts them up," Summers said.

Councilman Curren Price, who represents the neighborhood, said the houses pose serious health and safety risks.

“I’m getting complaints from constituents who have to walk in to the streets to avoid them,” Price said.

Authorities destroyed needles, drug setups and a gun seized from one or more of the houses and tents during an earlier cleanup.

Some advocates for the homeless see the single-story structures — about the size of garden shed — as a cheap and safer alternative to having the homeless sleep on the sidewalks.

Neighbors and other opponents, however, say they provide cover for lawlessness and criminal activity.

“They are only homes for prostitution, shooting up, smoking up,” said June Ellen Richard, 54, who has lived all her life within blocks of one of the freeway overpasses where the tiny houses were parked.

Mayor Eric Garcetti's spokeswoman, Connie Llanos, said he is committed to getting homeless people into permanent housing and services.

"Unfortunately, these structures can be hazardous to the individuals living in them and to the community at large," Llanos said in a statement.

"When the city took the houses, they didn't offer housing, they straight kicked them out," Summers said.

The tiny house crackdown came as the city continues to struggle to balance enforcement with housing and other aid for the burgeoning homeless population.

The city passed a tough new sweeps ordinance that identified tiny houses as “bulky items” subject to immediate confiscation. More than 30,000 people sleep on the streets in Los Angeles County.

Although the city also adopted a plan to end homelessness over the next decade, officials have not identified a source for money to tackle the $2-billion problem.

Summers said he has built and placed 37 tiny houses from Van Nuys to Inglewood, with help from volunteers and more than $100,000 in donations from people around the world drawn to his online video campaign.

"It’s not a permanent solution, but nobody is doing anything for shelter right now,” said Summers, who added that the houses should default to him rather than be destroyed. “They keep just saying we need permanent housing, but it never happens.”

Price said there are alternatives including shelters, but that people in the tiny houses reject them.

Kenner Jackson, who lives in a tiny house with his wife, Becky, and terrier, Cowboy, said officials were "taking houses from people who need them right now. ... Their plan isn't anything."

Jackson said the city hauled away homeless people's possessions while leaving bulky items like mattresses and chairs that residents dump next to the freeway.

Johnny Horton, 60, whose heavily bandaged legs were scored with wounds from uncontrolled diabetes, wept silently Wednesday as he contemplated going back to sleeping in the street.

"Laying on that tent on the sidewalk, it's impossible to keep clean," Horton said. He said the staff at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which discharged him Tuesday, said they'd try to get him housing, but it would take one to three months.

"I grew up in this neighborhood," Horton said.

Posted on Julia Briggs Cannon's tiny house next to the city impound notice were several fliers seeking the whereabouts of her husband, Larry Joe Cannon.

Cannon, 58, said her husband, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss, was hospitalized with a seizure Feb. 5, then disappeared.

Larry Joe Cannon turned up Friday, but the couple’s house was gone. As Summers drove off with her house on a flatbed trailer, Julia Cannon sat on a thin bedroll on the ground and pointed to the concrete.

"I'm staying right here," she said, her eyes filling with tears.
 

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