S.F. Supervisor Causes Ruckus by Telling Homeless to ‘Go Away’

San Francisco homeless tent (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener is facing the wrath of homeless advocates after suggesting last week that people living on the streets in tents should be moved into shelters.

Wiener wrote to the heads of six city agencies, “Tents in our public spaces are a public health and safety hazard for those living in them and for our neighborhoods. They are neither humane nor acceptable….We need to know what is driving this specific homeless population, and what we can do to promptly transition tent occupants into housing/shelter and to eliminate these tents in a humane way.”

Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told Bay Area public radio station KQED: “My chin dropped. I thought it was in particular bad taste given how much people are suffering. He’s talking about ripping those tents from people who have no other choice but to sleep on the street.” She noted the ongoing El Niño winter storms, adding, “Taking away people’s tents right now in the middle of these storms, that’s about as mean-spirited as you can get.”

KQED reported that in the Mission District, tents have increased along Division, Cesar Chavez, Vermont, 13th and 16th streets, and San Bruno Avenue.

Wiener wants more facilities that can provide homeless people with permanent housing.

City officials claim shelters currently have 30 to 90 shelter vacancies every night, KQED reports. But homeless people often want to stay in their tents to keep their belongings.

A 2015 study asserted that the number of homeless in San Francisco rose from 6,248 in 2005 to 6,686 in 2015. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last October: “In the past 12 months alone, the city’s Department of Public Works has steam-cleaned more than 10,000 pieces of feces and 765 puddles of urine from streets and sidewalks.”