San Francisco’s Tenderloin was bustling with tents, sleeping bags, the meager possessions of the city’s homeless on Tuesday – now it is empty.
About 50 tent-dwellers were evicted in a sweep of problem streets, either moved on or having their tends and possessions taken away.
The raid came days after Mayor Mark Farrell vowed to clean up the streets after dozens of homeless resisted efforts to move them into shelters.
Enough is enough. We have offered services time and time again and gotten many off the street, but there is a resistant population that remains, and their tents have to go,’ he said.
Police posted before and after photos of Ellis and Stevenson Streets showing they were completely empty after the Wednesday raids.
However, the eerily empty sidewalks prompted concern on social media about where the people who once lived in the tents ended up.
San Francisco Police tweeted out the removal of homeless people
The eerily empty sidewalks prompted concern on social media about where the people who once lived in the tents ended up
Twitter user Jennifer Cedar-Kraft wrote: ‘Is this supposed to make me pleased? Where did all the humans and their meger belongings go?
‘People do camp out on my block. It’s not great, but I don’t call the cops on them or want them to get hosed down. This is not the solution unless they have a better place to go.’
Damon Oliver said: ‘So you made helpless and homeless citizens go somewhere else??? But where?? But did you actually help those in need??’
And Cathy Reisenwitz added: ‘Where are these people now?’
The answer appeared to be moving a few blocks away to continue the cycle until the next area was cleaned out.
‘This is just what happens around here. They move us. They clean. We just set up somewhere new. Then it happens all over again,’ Fernando Veloso, 50, told the SF Chronicle as he packed up his tent.
Possessions collected from homeless who weren’t at their tents would be stored for 90 days, but news footage showed many items being packed into garbage trucks.
‘If you are not at your tent when they come through, they will take everything. If you are with your stuff, as long as it’s not over, they will let you keep what you have,’ a homeless woman told KRON4.
Sweeping the area came after months of trying to get homeless into shelters, housing or on to buses heading to family and friends since July.
About 270 were on the streets then and progressive outreach cut the number to 40 before recent arrivals swelled the number to about 100.
Half of those packed up and moved on in the days before Wednesday as Public Works staff informed them of the impending sweep.
Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the agency opened 50 temporary shelter beds and about a dozen more longer-term ones, but only a few accepted them.
‘We always lead with our services, and we are doing consistent and loving outreach, but at some point we need to let people know that what they’re doing by keeping tent camps on the sidewalk is not legal, safe or healthy,’ he said.
Some homeless activists argued evicting tent-dwellers raised tensions without fixing the problem and was dangerous for them and public workers.
They pointed to an incident where a woman stabbed her boyfriend during the sweep.
However, Mayor Farrell said that only highlighted why the tents needed to come down, as people were more vulnerable on the street.