SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A handful of demonstrators pitched tents Monday morning outside of San Francisco City Hall in an effort to push city leaders to take further action on homelessness.
Made up of concerned residents, the group Civic Disgrace held what they called a “tent-in” along the sidewalk just outside of City Hall’s Polk Street entrance around 8 a.m.
The group is urging the city to allocate more funds to get every person living on the streets into an emergency shelter and help them find temporary or permanent housing, according to organizers.
Group members also want the city to develop a system that would show where government funds set aside for homeless programs are going in order to track whether resources devoted to rehousing and rehabilitation are working.
Jennine Jacob, a member of the group, said she has lived in the city’s Mission District for 20 years and feels like homelessness in the area has increased in recent years.
“There’s people on the street that used to live in buildings that burned down. There are families on the street. There are people who are displaced by the housing crisis, as well as people who are addicts and mentally ill,” Jacobs said. “And I don’t feel that kicking everyone out and buying them bus tickets is the way to go.”
A ballot measure set to go before San Francisco voters next month would make it illegal to set up tents or encampments on city streets.
Proposition Q, which was introduced by Supervisor Mark Farrell, would allow police to remove homeless encampments as long as they provide 24 hours notice in writing and offer a specific shelter bed or housing opportunity.
The city’s Department of Public Works would store personal belongings taken from encampments for up to 90 days after removal, according to the measure.
Jacobs said she agrees with some aspects of the measure but ultimately believes Prop Q would punish people for simply being homeless.
“I don’t believe it’s the right path moving forward, to criminalize the homeless because they don’t want to be in that situation anymore than we want to see it,” Jacobs said.
Of Farrell, Jacobs said, “He lives in Pacific Heights and he doesn’t understand the issues that are at hand in the Mission.”
In April, the city’s board of supervisors declared a state of emergency due to homelessness.
Then in May, Mayor Ed Lee announced that part of a $9.6 billion budget proposal for the next fiscal year would include funding for homelessness services.
Specifically, the budget would include funding for a third Navigation Center shelter, increased services and hours in existing shelters, expanded medical and mental health services and increased staffing for Homeless Outreach Teams, as well as to more than 300 permanent supportive housing units and housing subsidies for seniors and the disabled.
In addition to the funding, Lee also created the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to address chronic homelessness.
Jacobs however said she hasn’t seen much change in her neighborhood since the announcements made by the city’s leaders.
She is hopeful the group will be able to speak with supervisors and express their concerns to them.
Civic Disgrace plans on holding another “tent-in” next week, although a date and time has not been set, according to Jacobs.