No more homeless sweeps in San Francisco: editorial FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 08:34:56 -0700 (PDT)

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Since the editorial below, and negative press elsewhere, Mayor Brown of San
Francisco has retracted his plan to have police take away homeless people's
shopping carts.

Can anyone involved describe how the "campaign to stop cart confiscation"
there successfully brought media and other pressure to bear on local
officials to scrap the plan?
FWD  San Francisco Bay Guardian - October 13, 1999


EVER SINCE ENCAMPMENTS oof homeless people outside City Hall cost Art Agnos
his second term as mayor, San Francisco politicians have taken to using
homeless people as a campaign prop. And sure enough, as we go to press,
police officers are reportedly preparing to enter United Nations Plaza en
masse and seize the shopping carts in which some homeless people store
their belongings.

And that should tell you just about everything you need to know about San
Francisco politics in 1999.

Police solutions to homelessness won't work. Homeless people are on the
streets because they have nowhere else to go. They have nowhere else to go
because there's almost no affordable housing left in the city, because the
owners of single-room occupancy firetraps kick them out after 28 days,
because the number of shelter beds is about one tenth of the number of
people sleeping on the streets.

Taking shopping carts away from homeless people won't get them off the
streets. It won't stop a minority of them from intimidating passers-by. It
will only make their lives even more difficult, and perhaps push a few out
of U.N. Plaza, so the yuppies who are flocking into San Francisco, the
people who resent being reminded of the realities of poverty, won't have to
see them when they step out of their offices.

This is a disgrace. Any mayoral challenger who wants progressive votes
should immediately denounce Brown's plan and vow to quit blaming the
victims for city hall's failures.


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