SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The police raid on Wednesday that dismantled the Occupy San Francisco encampment was coupled with efforts to get the many homeless people participating in the protest into shelters.
Even though some decided to take advantage of the city’s offer, many others chose to stay camped out in the cold despite the arrest of more than 85 people when police removed the tents from Justin Herman Plaza.
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
Dariush Kayhan, the city’s director of homeless policy, said outreach workers had been trying for weeks to enroll homeless in shelters and other mental health programs.
“This seemed like another opportunity,” he said, to get the word out about the city’s substance abuse programs and its universal health care initiative.
“We have a very robust system of care here in San Francisco,” he said.
But outreach workers cannot force the homeless into any program.
Lindsey Miller for example said she was happy to remain on the streets in part because of the supportive atmosphere she found in the Occupy movement.
“We keep each other warm. We share all of our resources, and we love each other,” she said.
“They can take all of our stuff and they can push us around. But we have ideas and we have awareness.”
Kayhan acknowledged the communal atmosphere was appealing for many of the homeless drawn to the Occupy encampment by its makeshift kitchens and free meals.
“A lot of folks did stay because they had some community there and there was food being prepared there,” he said, which explained an important selling point of the winter shelter program.
“Really good food there,” Kayhan said.
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