We are so heartbroken to share the news of another lost Coalition family member. Scott Nelson was the backbone of the Street Sheet vendor program for years, serving as the vendor coordinator on a volunteer basis, getting this paper into the hands of hundreds of vendors who make their living selling it. As a volunteer he also fought for recycling programs to remain in operation across the City, helped countless homeless people navigate the system to get their towed vehicles back and redistributed abandoned transportation devices to people who needed them. He was our Robin Hood, and we will always remember him.
Scott was committed to prison abolition and to redistributing wealth, usually by outsmarting the systems in place to keep people from meeting their needs. He magically distributed discounted transit tickets, rewired private electric bikes and scooters for public use and constantly returned from lost and founds and free piles with gifts—weed, thick wool socks, ice cream, once even a leather jacket—to the delight of those he cared about.
Scott was calm and kind in the face of extreme trauma and adversity, and always had a witty joke or a knowing smile to lighten the mood when things got tough.
Please check back for updates on a memorial for our friend and comrade.
Scott was the king of recycling! He knew the ins and outs of the state program, advocated for change, advocated for access and worked with a lot of different stakeholders to improve recycling in SF. He was also instrumental in working with the Treasurer’s Office on their Financial Justice Project to change policies so that fines and fees did not disparately impact impoverished and working class people. He was incredibly thoughtful and had a brilliant policy mind! Such a joy to work with, his wealth of knowledge will be missed, but his contributions to San Francisco will live on!
- Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of Coalition on Homelessness
Scott Nelson was one of the first people I met when I started The San Francisco Financial Justice Project several years ago. Scott had signed up to be a member of the Fines and Fees Task Force. We met for coffee so I could listen and hear what was on his mind about fines and fees. He told me about what he was seeing with quality-of-life citations and about the ticket clinic he ran at the Coalition on Homelessness.
Scott mentioned something that first day that has always stayed with me. He said “The process is the punishment.” That often the processes we set up for people to apply for government resources are incredibly onerous and hard to navigate. Scott’s comment and wisdom has stayed with me all these years. He inspired me and so many others to do better.
I’ll miss Scott’s gentle presence, kind heart and wise words. I imagine we all do.
Director of the Financial Justice Project