“We are always the last group that is given considerations during policy-making decisions,” said one formerly homeless man when I interviewed him last year. “Even when the policies are drafted, they often don’t address the root cause of homelessness,” he added. Through my interviews with people affected by homelessness over the years, I have learned to approach my work in public health through a different lens, one in which marginalized communities are at the forefront.
Already normalized by COVID-19 “shelter in place” conditions that were prompted by the pandemic, housed and unhoused San Franciscans alike found themselves beset by a curfew that Mayor London Breed imposed on City residents for five nights from May 31 through June 4.
Through demonstrations and vocal outcry, community members rebuked the City’s response to nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd and countless African Americans slain by police officers as part of the nation’s systemic and social racism.
On May 27th, the Coalition on Homelessness and 27 other community organizations, many of whom are property owners in the Tenderloin sent a letter to UC Hastings Dean and Chancellor David Faigman imploring him to sign a pledge ensuring that any lawsuit settlement or outcomes, from the May 4th suit, would not agree to sweep or criminalize any unhoused Tenderloin residents.
Most importantly we ask that they comply with the CDC’s interim guidelines on unsheltered homelessness and COVID-19 which has instructed counties not to confiscate tents and more recently been updated stating:
If individual housing options are not available,
“Man sleeping on bench on Hayes St. near Gough. Can someone come asap, I am in the area having lunch,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed texted police Chief William Scott in August of 2019.
“Copy. We are sending a team,” he responded two minutes later.
Eight minutes after that, when the police had presumably not shown up to escort the homeless man away, Breed texted Chief Scott again.
On Friday afternoon several dozen people gathered outside the unassuming Palms Motel in Oakland, CA with signs reading “Housing is a Human Right” and “Hotels Not Graves.” Inside, Stefani Echeverría-Fenn, an adjunct classics lecturer who herself was formerly homeless and has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years, has chained herself in the bathroom of a small room. She has been demanding that the City of Oakland offer hotel rooms where she has helped set up for her unhoused neighbors at the intentional encampment at 37th Street and Martin Luther King,
San Francisco is a racist city. Black people in SF get evicted at higher rates, are subjected to environmental pollution at higher rates, get cancer at higher rates, get displaced at higher rates, get kicked out of school at higher rates, get bogus stopped by police at higher rates, get killed at higher rates, get jailed at higher rates.
Let’s talk about poverty – African Americans are much more likely to be poor in SF,
A response to Mayor’s Neglect of Homeless San Franciscans during Global Pandemic
“Housing is the cure!”
This mantra was shouted from the windows of over 50 vehicles rolled together in a caravan demanding hotel rooms and long term housing solutions for the 7,000 people currently fighting for survival on the streets of San Francisco.
The action marked the launch of “Housing is the Cure”, a campaign to demand immediate action to support all people experiencing homelessness in the city during the COVID19 pandemic.
Friday, May 8th
I went out to the encampment at what they call Fulton Mall today — the area on Fulton Street surrounded by the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Main Library and the Civic Center Plaza; As outreachers at the Coalition on Homelessness, we’ve been spending a lot of time there over the past week and a half. Today, things got lively! It has been extremely challenging getting straight answers, but I feel like we started getting some today.
A plea for survival during COVID-19
“Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”
-Martin Luther King Jr. on April 3, 1968, the evening before he was assassinated.
These final prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Press release: SAN QUENTIN PRISON PROTEST West Gate, Saturday May 9 @ 11AM
A car caravan demonstration to demand protection from the deadly COVID-19 virus for prisoners is set for Saturday, May 9th. Cars will assemble at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal parking lot at 10AM. The caravan will begin at 11AM driving up Sir Francis Drake Blvd. to the West Gate of San Quentin State Prison. They will be protesting prison authorities who are leaving the most vulnerable people—prison inmates in overcrowded conditions—in danger without basic protections and unable to enact physical distancing.