On Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 11 a.m., the Coalition on Homelessness will host a webinar to unveil a scathing report regarding the city’s encampment response carried out by Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC). The report draws on recently acquired access to publicly released data and the results of in-person monitoring of the city’s encampment removal operations, which reveal dramatic failures. Perpetual displacement, lack of meaningful efforts to offer adequate and appropriate services, and inhumane treatment are just some of the findings.
The report examines what the city’s own documentation demonstrates: that HSOC almost never has an adequate number of beds to offer those who are being forcibly displaced as required by law, that it is failing to make appropriate and lasting placements, and that it is illegally discarding the property of those in encampments.
The newly acquired data mirrors what Coalition staff and volunteer monitors of HSOC operations have witnessed. According to Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, “We feel we have the moral responsibility to expose the ineffective and harmful reality of HSOC’s operations, given how greatly that reality differs from public presentations given by the city.”
Marquis Aubrey, an unhoused intern with the Coalition on Homelessness, said in regards to a sweep that occurred this summer, “They didn’t offer me any services. I was busting my ass moving all day…I wasn’t offered anything. I never got a time to stop from moving my stuff to say, ‘Hey, I need a room, I need a shower, I need food.’ I don’t know what else to do when three days in a row we are told to pack up and move. This is discrimination, harrassment. They don’t want the homeless here. They want us dead.”
The report concludes that current HSOC operations fail to permanently address homelessness, increase economic costs and violate human rights. Only 30% of residents are being relocated, and they are only being relocated to temporary shelter. The remainder are still on the streets. Political battles during the epidemic also revealed how profoundly broken the “revolving door” approach the City takes to homelessness is, and the lack of structural investments in long-term solutions has increased systemic inequalities. As UCSF’s Dr. Margot Kushel said in response on how to combat homelessness, “There is no medicine as powerful as housing.”
The Coalition on Homelessness is a 30-year-old organization based in San Francisco that organizes homeless people and front line service providers to create permanent solutions to homelessness while fighting for the human rights of those forced to remain on the streets.