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, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.
Over three weeks ago, UC Hastings Law, alongside five other plaintiffs, had sued the City and County of San Francisco to “end the dangerous and illegal conditions” caused by tent encampments in the Tenderloin neighborhood. While we support the lawsuit proponent’s call “to provide safe and sanitary shelter for unhoused people,” we are concerned that the actual wording of the complaint itself has listed remedies that center on the removal of poor people, without offering true solutions. We want to ensure that any settlement or legal outcomes do not lead to expansive and draconian criminalization of unhoused Tenderloin residents.
In the midst of the City’s haphazard implementation of the Tenderloin Plan, their lethargic approach to Shelter-in-Place Hotels and Safe Shelter Villages, the City and Plaintiffs have been meeting to reach a settlement on this lawsuit. We are gravely concerned, spurred on by the dramatic uptick in deaths of 48 unhoused residents, that a settlement without services and housing solutions, could lead to policing and sanitation efforts involving the confiscation of tents, move-along orders, and citations for camping or resting in public. According to medical experts such actions would not only likely lead to increased infection and death among the unsheltered, but would also increase the risks of viral spread among the general population.
For that reason, our pledge to David Faigman asks that UC Hastings only accepts a settlement that follows the CDC’s guideline and the legal opinion of Obama’s Department of Justice and Ninth Circuit regarding Martin vs Boise to ensure the safety of unhoused residents, while also respecting the persons and property of Tenderloin’s unhoused.
Link to media comments from David Faigman and Executive Director of Operations Rhiannon Bailard