Earlier this year, the San Francisco Public Press featured Tantay Tolbert in “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis,” a photojournalism project by Yesica Prado documenting the experiences of people living in vehicles in the Bay Area. Prado followed up with Tolbert to find out how her life has changed in recent months.
While its Veterans Day dinner on Wednesday evening will be virtual, staff at the veterans services group Swords to Plowshares have been reaching out to and providing help for veterans in person at drop-in centers and on the street in San Francisco. In addition to some 400 veterans it had already housed permanently, the organization has been able to secure temporary stays in hotel rooms for about 200 people during the pandemic, said executive director Michael Blecker.
Researchers at the Urban Institute have been looking into how effective various responses to homelessness are. In a series of blog posts, they issue a warning against a punitive response to homelessness and recommend other ways to respond to homelessness, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic that threatens millions of people’s livelihoods and housing stability.
San Francisco’s decision to move more than 2,000 homeless people out of hotel rooms could drive many back onto the streets, leaving them as vulnerable to COVID-19 as they were when the temporary housing program was launched in the spring.
Mayor London Breed’s apparent toleration of an unsanctioned homeless encampment “sweep” by a corporate event company this month has led her critics to ask whether the policy of City Hall is to turn a blind eye to privatized harassment of people living on the streets. The sweep, which occurred just past midnight on the morning of Sept. 10 outside the old Honda dealership on 12th Street, resulted in the disposal of eight people’s belongings. Neither the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing nor the mayor’s office clearly rebuked the actions of the event company, Non Plus Ultra.
San Francisco will soon spend previously unthinkable sums on the fight against homelessness. The massive influx of cash — nearly $600 million over the next year collected thanks to a voter initiative, combined with hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures by the homelessness department — could be a game changer.
An unsanctioned sweep of a homeless encampment in central San Francisco has cost the event company Non Plus Ultra a big customer. The company rousted eight people in the middle of the night on Sept. 10, and – while city officials have largely remained silent – the action didn’t sit well with TechCrunch, which is renting Non Plus Ultra’s SVN West event space at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue.
Non Plus Ultra, a company providing event space for TechCrunch’s Disrupt, an influential trade show for technology startups that began yesterday and typically draws thousands of attendees, conducted an independent sweep of a homeless tent encampment outside one of its San Francisco locations early this month.
In a pandemic that mandates physical distancing, survival in the poverty-suffused Tenderloin is endangered by relentlessly overcrowded conditions, a dearth of open public spaces and limited mobility. Neighborhood residents suffer the city’s second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections — eclipsed only by the Bayview — and five times that of neighboring Nob Hill.
This year the census, a constitutionally mandated count of every person in the country every 10 years, is being conducted primarily online for the first time. While the shift offered convenience to the digitally connected, many communities already considered “hard to count” include people with limited digital tools or literacy that put the digital questionnaire out of reach. With the coronavirus pandemic and confusing federal directives, the in-person enumeration most likely to document them has been delayed and cut short.