Homeless Advocates Occupy Vacant San Francisco Buildings

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Some 30 protesters occupied several vacant properties in San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood along Geary Boulevard Monday night as part of World Homeless Action Day, organizers said.

The demonstrators, led by the squatters’ collective Homes Not Jails, entered the shuttered Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1101 Van Ness Ave. at 6:40 p.m. Monday, according to Brian Wilkes, a representative for the group.

Activists with Homes Not Jails were joined by OccupySF participants in occupying the 600-unit hotel, which closed in October 2009 to make way for California Pacific Medical Center’s new Cathedral Hill Hospital, a $1.7 billion 555-bed acute and women and children’s care hospital.

According to Wilkes, people who occupied the building found that most of the rooms remained furnished and in habitable condition.

A call to a CPMC spokesman seeking comment this morning was not immediately returned.

The activists said that enough residential units exist in San Francisco to end homelessness in the city.

Citing 2010 U.S. Census data, Homes Not Jails claims that more than 10,000 people are homeless in San Francisco but that the city has 30,000 vacant housing units.

The group rallied at 5 p.m. at Civic Center before marching to the vacant properties. By 8:15 p.m., activists had occupied three more properties near the hotel: 1020 Geary Blvd., 1028-1030 Geary Blvd.—a 17-unit apartment building—and 1034-1036 Geary Blvd., Wilkes said.

Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said police cannot take action to remove the demonstrators unless the building owners ask them to do so.

A property owner would need to sign a citizen’s arrest form to give police that authority, Esparza said, adding that the Police Department has been in contact with the owners of the Cathedral Hill Hotel.

“Typically, these protesters that occupy these buildings don’t tear them up, and they don’t vandalize them,” he said.
“The demonstrators tend to be peaceful and vacate the buildings on their own after drawing attention to the issue.”

World Homeless Action Day is held annually on Oct. 10 to shed light on “homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness,” according to the World Homeless Day website.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Peter Jennings

    Taking of private property always makes society better just ask Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe. In fact, why don’t these homeless people demand to be shipped to Venezuela or Zimbabwe to be with their like minded compatriots and really show us how backwards we are.

    • NonServiam

      Maybe because they’re Americans?

  • Davey

    Why don’t they pay for the up keep and property taxes.

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  • M2

    Occupy nothing! These “protesters” are nothing more than freeloaders and junkies. They took out student loans, graduated with useless degrees (English, psychology, history, social studies), they can’t get a job and they demand that mom, pop, and the society pay for their epic fail at life. Losers!

    If they don’t like America, let them move to North Korea. There everyone is equal and if you protest you get shot in the head at close range.

    The US has its problems, but it is still the greatest country on earth. Believe it.

    • NonServiam

      “These “protesters” are nothing more than freeloaders and junkies.”
      Yeah because I’m sure you know them personally?

      “If they don’t like America, let them move to North Korea.”
      This is so tired. They’re Americans, and as is a tradition among Americans they are fighting for a better America.

      Ask yourself this: How do think the US became the nation with the best living conditions in the world? I’ll give you a hint: It’s because people fought for it!!

      Now imagine if the British said essentially what you said: “If you don’t like the taxes of New England move to Australia”
      If they took your advice their would be no America!!

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