SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Tent encampments are now very much a part of San Francisco but how those tents keep popping up around the city comes to many as a surprise.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants them gone, but he’s running into a crowdfunding campaign.
In the city’s war on sidewalk tent encampments, Bradley Volker is an enemy soldier.
He’s one of a handful of cabbies who, while driving around fares, sees homeless people who need shelter and then grab a tent out of the trunk.
“It’s bleak. Rats everywhere. It’s disgusting. I would never wish this on anyone,” Volker said.
The $30 tents are bought by a GoFundMe campaign headed by Shaun Osburn.
Osburn explained that, “for the most part [the tents are] all these folks have.” He said after the tents are gone, homeless individuals “are exposed to the elements.”
But the city, pointing out obvious public health and safety issues, wants the tents gone. There was the stabbing of a California Highway Patrol officer at a camp and a controversial police shooting of a homeless man they say had a knife at another.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who backed Mayor Ed Lee’s sweep of tents last month in the South of Market neighborhood on Division Street, said, “You just can’t address a tent city at one location, and go home, call it a day.”
The Mayor’s Press Secretary Christine Falvey said, “The Mayor is focused on making sure people have an alternative. Housing, shelter, services first.”
The Mayor’s office says there is still room in city shelters and that more space is coming in the next few months.
Falvey said she thinks Mayor Lee would find the distribution of tents to be “not the most helpful response.”