Part 3 of the Sweepy Town Chronicles

by Andy Howard

This is a serial work of fiction. You can find parts 1&2 at streetsheet.org

It was late after the drama surrounding the encampment subsided, and Will had not really established a new shelter to his liking. It was looking like he’d be sleeping rough, and it was drizzling—another temperate San Francisco evening. A few pieces of cardboard with some plastic were going to have to suffice.

All of a sudden, a cold blast of something went through Will’s entire body. Hair standing up on all ends, cold sweat on the forehead, and a feeling like he was going to vomit any second.

But Will wasn’t coming down with COVID. He absolutely panicked when he remembered the one thing in his lean-to that could not be disturbed under any circumstances: His beloved mother’s remains—her ashes and urn. He had been planning on getting a safety deposit box, but he just needed to save up a few more dollars.

Will was all fired up now; his heart rate doubled, his blood pressure was high, and he felt a bit faint. Will knew that losing his mother’s ashes to the police and Department of Public Works who had swept away his shelter would haunt him for the rest of his life. He imagined his mother laying to rest in a garbage landfill somewhere.

Will reflected—what assholes the police and fire and DPW had become. Departments with runaway agents and one-way agendas. Will fell asleep that night contemplating how cruel the human beings who were sworn to protect and serve the people of the great City of San Francisco are.

It wasn’t often that Will went to bed with negative topics bouncing around in his head. Will knew that he would be getting up early to get over to 280 Turk St. in the Tenderloin—the new office central for the Coalition on Homelessness. Will got up and made it there by 9am. The staff at the Coalition are so helpful and pleasant, and always willing to lend a helping hand to whomever is in need of some encouragement.

Will arrived, and as per usual he was warmly greeted and welcomed. There aren’t many places that treat homeless people with respect since the pandemic came to town. He sat down with Liam, and brought him up to speed on the latest antics. He asked if someone could set up a video camera, so that he could tell his story and launch it to the community on social media. He spoke about the cancer spreading through the community at the hands of some rogue agents at the DPW, the police, the fire department, and the HOT team.

The outcome of this conversation was a small claims channel that could be used to reimburse people on the streets that have been negatively affected by these illegal sweeps. The next few days were exciting as word started to spread on the street. About a week later, he received a call from the UC Berkeley Law School. They offered to launch a federal civil case, which was filed on September 27th. Will became a declarant in the federal case.

Sweep well, and don’t forget to look us up in the next edition of Street Sheet. There will be updates on the upcoming legal battles and policy changes that will give back the homeless community some of the human rights that the current administration doesn’t recognize.