Rich Tech Investors Back Bid to Ban Homeless Camps From SF

Several wealthy investors from the Bay Area have placed over $150,000 into funding a controversial ballot proposal, Proposition Q, that seeks to rid San Francisco’s streets of homeless encampments.

Proposition Q seeks to amend the city’s police code by requiring officers to offer tent-dwelling homeless people 24 hours’ notice and a shelter bed, or bus ticket out of town, before confiscating their tents and belongings. If the proposal passes, the city would be required to store the belongings of these homeless individuals for up to 90 days.

The UK Guardian notes that Sequoia Capital chairman Michael Moritz, tech angel investor Ron Conway, and hedge-fund investor William Oberndorf have donated $49,999 apiece to Proposition Q. Zachary Bogue — a tech investor and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s husband — has reportedly also pitched in $2,500. The entire campaign chest for the proposal is approximately $270,000.

Proposition Q has faced criticism from those who believe it is an attempt to punish the most vulnerable in order to relieve San Francisco of its most visible symbol of its huge socioeconomic gap. The middle class is hardly visible and the growing inequity between the rich and the poor has become increasingly evident.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, the author of Proposition Q, wrote an op-ed on the issue earlier this month, in which he said, “I strongly believe that it is not compassionate to allow human beings to live on our city streets. Tent encampments are unhealthy and unsafe for the individuals residing in them and for our residents and businesses. Let’s help get the homeless into housing, not tents; please vote yes on Proposition Q.”

Opponents disagree. “With Proposition Q, we’re just taking away someone’s tent and making them sleep on the cold concrete,” Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told the Guardian. “They’re not going to disappear.”

Friedenbach reportedly argued that the campaign has nothing to do with homeless people. The Guardian notes that she believes it is instead “a tool being used by politicians looking to draw political distinctions in a one-party town.”

Opponents of the measure also note that Proposition Q does not include funding for additional housing or homeless shelters. That adds to the challenge when San Francisco’s existing shelters are riddled with long waiting lists for people seeking beds to sleep on.

The San Francisco Chronicle, and a group of media outlets in the Bay Area, started a campaign this summer to urge City Hall to address the city’s homelessness problem.

During a meeting with fellow Bay Area publications at the time, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief, Audrey Cooper, said, “You will not be able to log onto Facebook, turn on the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper, log onto Twitter without seeing a story about the causes and solutions to homelessness.”

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