There aren’t any vacationers anymore on San Francisco’s famously twisty and steep Lombard Avenue. The town’s landmark resorts and posh retailers are closed up tight.
However one staple of San Francisco has grow to be much more pronounced because the coronavirus pandemic chased everybody inside. Homeless folks, who’re notably weak to the virus, are nonetheless sleeping on sidewalks and flap-to-flap in tents cluttered round downtown and different common neighborhoods.
Their plight underscores the political infighting that has divided San Francisco leaders for years in tackling homelessness and housing, typically with the identical end result — gridlock.
The Bay Space received nationwide reward for ordering the earliest stay-home mandate within the nation, however San Francisco Mayor London Breed now faces rising criticism from advocates and fellow metropolis officers who say she hasn’t carried out sufficient to maneuver homeless folks into lodge rooms and even to implement metropolis guidelines on avenue tenting in dense neighborhoods.
“The medical professionals are near unanimous that resorts are the most secure option to defend the un-housed and public well being,” mentioned Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission district. “We’re sick and uninterested in the shifting excuses.”
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Practically eight weeks after the shut-down order, greater than 1,000 homeless folks have been moved into lodge rooms within the metropolis, which the mayor calls a outstanding accomplishment regardless of “an unimaginable logistical problem.”
About 1,700 lodge rooms stay empty, although, as Breed steadfastly refuses calls for to deal with extra of the town’s 8,000 homeless. The rooms are prioritized for front-line staff, homeless folks recovering from COVID-19 or those that are older or have underlying well being issues. In the meantime, shelters have stopped admitting folks due to spacing necessities and the town’s largest shelter was shut down after 106 folks turned contaminated with the virus.
San Francisco, which is each a metropolis and a county, compares comparatively effectively numbers-wise with different main California counties relating to rooms for the homeless. However political divisions within the compact metropolis — the second-densest within the U.S. — have been amplified by the virus together with the mushrooming tents and rampant drug use on the streets.
Sprawling Los Angeles County, with 59,000 homeless folks, has moved greater than 1,400 into rooms; San Diego has carried out the identical for about 500 of its 8,000 homeless.
In San Francisco, although, Breed has ignored an emergency legislative order from metropolis lawmakers requiring her to amass sufficient lodge rooms for all of the homeless. She says that’s not life like.
Final week, activists staged a “die-in” in entrance of Breed’s residence, holding indicators asking her to “love thy neighbor.” Pissed off advocacy teams and San Francisco supervisors have raised non-public cash to maneuver a handful of homeless folks into resorts.
This week, a regulation college and others within the inner-city Tenderloin neighborhood sued San Francisco, saying neighborhood sidewalks are “unsanitary, unsafe, and infrequently impassable,” with drug offers and tents blocking sidewalks. The American Civil Liberties Union Basis of Northern California put Breed on discover that it’s going to sue over the problem if issues don’t change.
Breed says outreach staff are doing their finest. A number of the homeless who’ve psychological well being and dependancy points are difficult to assist, she mentioned. On Wednesday, she launched a plan for the Tenderloin that features offering clear water and a sanctioned “protected sleeping” web site for tents.
“I get that everybody needs to see one thing totally different,” Breed mentioned. “I wish to see one thing totally different, however we’re not housekeepers, we’re not babysitters, and we’re being handled that approach by individuals who have some challenges in some instances, and a few difficulties and a few who’re simply downright defiant.”
Shanna Couper Orona, a disabled former firefighter, and one other girl occupied a vacant residence for a number of hours on Might 1 as a part of a protest to “reclaim SF.” Orona, 47, who has been dwelling in her van for about 5 years, bikes across the metropolis to are likely to the cuts and wounds of different homeless folks. The mayor, she says, is being disrespectful.
“She forgot the place her coronary heart is at,” Orona mentioned.
Sadie Stone, a pastor at Bethany United Methodist Church, says she will’t perceive why Breed would go up the chance to get folks into resorts, particularly with the Federal Emergency Administration Company paying 75% of the fee.
“It simply sends a really clear message that their lives don’t matter,” Stone mentioned.
Breed, 45, is not any stranger to hardship. She grew up in public housing, raised by a grandmother who drilled into her the significance of religion, training and feeding others, irrespective of how little that they had.
Life Throughout Pandemic: Roads Empty, Vacationer Spots Abandoned, Faculties Closed
She can be a average Democrat in a politically polarized metropolis the place progressives push for inexpensive housing mandates, hire caps and free public transportation. Breed believes that the homelessness disaster can’t be solved with out constructing extra housing of every type, together with luxurious condos.
P.J. Johnston, a public relations strategist and good friend to Breed, mentioned supervisors have to cease shouting on the mayor and let her do her job. He mentioned it’s flawed for lawmakers to set numerous rooms to amass and an “arbitrary deadline” for filling them with out addressing different companies reminiscent of safety, sanitation and upkeep, calling it “simply irresponsible.”
Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, has backed Breed’s effort to construct extra housing. However the lawyer and activist is apoplectic over what’s been allowed to flourish throughout the pandemic within the troubled Tenderloin district, the place many kids and households stay.
The variety of tents on its cramped sidewalks has doubled to just about 400, he mentioned. Whereas Breed closed off a part of Golden Gate Park to visitors so folks may safely train, there’s no such elbow room within the Tenderloin.
“I don’t know of anywhere in America the place well being mandates are so flagrantly violated as within the Tenderloin,” he mentioned. “It hasn’t sunk in that we’re in peril.”
— to www.nbcbayarea.com