SF Mayor says homeless encampments in the city have got to go

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The clock is ticking for some homeless people living in tents on sidewalks in San Francisco. 

That’s because San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell is taking aim at what he calls a service resistant segment of the homeless population living in those tents.

Homeless encampments like the one on Division Street in San Francisco have got to go, says Mayor Farrell.

“As mayor I want to make sure that the residents of San Francisco know that the streets are going to be safe for them for everybody in our city,” he said. 

The mayor is making this announcement in advance of action being taken by the city to remove tents from sidewalks in and around the Mission District.

“What we are saying is, people who are living in these tents at night, no more, we are going to offer you shelter, we are going to offer you housing but if you continue to resist, if you continue to demand to be able to sleep on our streets in the tent encampments, that’s not going to work any more for the city of San Francisco,” he said.

“They’re already increasing enforcement, they have been doing this, it’s currently going on, he just publicly spoke about it,” said Kelley Coutler with the SF Coalition on Homelessness.

There are around 7,500 homeless people on any given day in San Francisco, according to the city’s 2017 homeless count survey.

However, Coutler says actually there is three times that amount of people living on the street.

She says that is the real problem.

“We don’t have the resources available. I am out there in the encampments on a regular basis. I was out there this morning. People are constantly asking how they can get help. How they can get in a navigation center. We have over a thousand people waiting on the single adult shelter wait list right now and for families and with children the average wait is 111 days, so it’s not that people don’t want help. We don’t have resources available to people,” she said.

Mayor Farrell disagrees.

“Look, we have been going out to this population, to this area, offering services, offering housing, and a lot of people are coming off of the streets which is great and what we want to see, and we do have additional capacity no matter what statistics that people through out at you, that being said, at some point here after months and months of trying, there is a service resistant population that just wants to be there, again this is the population the contributes to the crime, to the arson, to the rapes, to the additional public safety issues,” he said. 

Mayor Farrell says the city has given the tent encampments sufficient notice, which means city workers can start removing the tents at any time.

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