Stolen Belonging: City As Abuser

by Leslie Dreyer

The biggest thief and abuser in San Francisco, by far, is the City itself. Mayor London Breed’s administration—including the Healthy Streets Operations Center (HSOC), the police department, and the Department of Public Works—enacts violence against unhoused folks daily by sweeping encampments. 

Photo montage by Leslie Dreyer

Stolen Belonging, a project of the Coalition on Homelessness,


‘Compassion is More Important than the Job’: Ex-DPW Worker Dishes the Dirt on Sweeps

A workers hands are pictures forming a triangle shape against a tabletop. The worker's badge appears to the side with the name redacted.

TJ Johnston and Leslie Dreyer conducted this interview for the Stolen Belonging Project. It was recorded by Jin Zhu. 

Photo by Jin Zhu of interviewee’s hands and her official City and County of San Francisco DPW badge.

For the past two decades, San Francisco’s Department of Public Works (DPW) has largely ignored incidents of their employees committing acts of abuse,


Stopping Sweeps Can End the Cycle of Trauma. This Clinical Social Worker Tells Us How.

A woman sits in an office in front of two signs protesting encampment sweeps.

With encampment sweeps in San Francisco becoming as common a sight as street dwellings themselves, some things are easily observed: large Public Works trucks pulling up, police officers enforcing the operations and unhoused residents scrambling to hold onto what’s left of their possessions that isn’t already thrown in the trucks. 

Video still of Diana Valentine by Jin Zhu

What’s less visible are the traumatic effects unsheltered San Franciscans suffer long after the streets are cleared of sidewalk habitation.


Lisa: “They Took Everything” Including Our Happiness, Hope and Strength 

A woman with turquoise hair wearing a yellow hat holds her hands up in front of her.

Interview with Lisa Mahmoud by the Stolen Belonging Team, Bayview District, San Francisco

San Francisco resident Lisa Mahmoud gestures as if she’s holding one of the most beloved and irreplaceable items stolen from her in the sweeps: a basket woven by her grandmother who has passed. Photo by Leslie Dreyer

My name is Lisa Mahmoud. I was born in Ethiopia but I came here when I was five.


Stop the Sweeps: Restart Humanity

A woman with colorfully dyed hair raises her clenched fist and smiles at the camera. She is wear a graphic T-shirt, plaid pants, and a black vest.

An Interview with Meghan “Roadkill” Johnson, conducted by the Stolen Belonging team  

Photo of Roadkill by Leslie Dreyer

Meghan “Roadkill” Johnson is a shelter client advocate who was homeless for 10 years, on and off the streets of San Francisco and throughout California. Her cherished and vital belongings were taken by employees of the City’s Department of Public works and the police department during the sweeps.



A silhouette of an figure presses its hands against a door. The image is red and black and white and reads "Horrors, Real & Imagined"

by Quinn Hailey

Sunday night, family dinner as usual. It was all fun stories, chatting, and TV –until normal programming was interrupted for some breaking news. Something was definitely happening. 

“Reporting live from California, we interrupt normal programming to bring you some terrible news,” the reporter began. “There has been an outbreak of an unknown infectious disease that’s killing people in a matter of hours. The dead bodies have also been waking up within a few minutes with bloodshot eyes and an urge for blood.


The Horror Lawyer

A silhouette of an figure presses its hands against a door. The image is red and black and white and reads "Horrors, Real & Imagined"

by Terry Johnson


Here is evil, the pure poison of the soul, the darkness we are all afraid lurks within ourselves. We are  afraid of it, and of what we are capable of doing if we lose control. Afraid, but also tempted, because  there is freedom in doing exactly what we want. Freedom for a time and a price. 

The fear,


Make the Change

by Alina Catubig, Leenz

Make the change
Give your change
Lend a helping hand
Buy a meal
Feed the soul
Don’t feed me the processed
Feed me the organic truth
The fiber, the greens
The antioxidants to give me life
Make the change
Give your change
Read me a lyric,a story
What’s your story?
Can you smile that it makes me want to dance and sing To perform art, to express change
Loud & … READ MORE

Christina’s Dream

A silhouette of an figure presses its hands against a door. The image is red and black and white and reads "Horrors, Real & Imagined"

by Christina Munene

I love traveling, that’s a fact! On this day, our school planned an international trip to Paris. I was excited as this would be my first trip on a plane. My classmates and I even formed research groups on places to visit while on the trip. We devised a list of some incredible places, and shared it with the teacher responsible for the trip planning. Later that evening, I went home after school and shared the exciting news with my family.


A Sweepy Little Town

By Andy Howard

First installment:

Will was entranced in his thoughts, mesmerized by the rattling, clanging, window vibrating noises coming from the metal behemoth that was the backbone of the local public transportation system, servicing the 49-square mile area of the iconic City of San Francisco.

It had been a long day. He awoke at 5 a.m., met with the group of homeless individuals that resided within a block or two of his own lean-to,