San Francisco: A Changing City

As a fourth-generation Bay Area resident, I grew up hearing stories about the changes in San Francisco from family who grew up in the Mission, the Marina, and the Richmond.

Seeing drastic changes in San Francisco over the past decade, I’ve set out during my lunch breaks where I live and work in the Mission District to document the city’s changing landscape. These images are part of the photojournalism project “San Francisco: A Changing City,” and are intended to capture different responses of what it means to call SF “home.”

About these images

I captured this specific set of images between February-March, 2016, in my work as a paralegal/social worker to document the homeless individuals and families being displaced at an alarming rate in the north Mission and SoMa.

Some photos in this series capture specific streets before and after the displacement of the tents and encampments. While the encampments along 13th Street have been mostly cleared out since March 2016, the number of tents remains high in the area as of August 2016. The tents are more dispersed along nearby streets.

This is a documentation of what was. Spaces are an extension of the people who inhabit them. This is a documentation of how spaces change once the people who inhabit them are displaced. How we relate to the spaces we share in SF is always changing. The city’s policies are always impacting the use of space and changing lives through evictions and gentrification. The same amount of space that tents took up on the sidewalks is now taken up by metal fences. We must reconsider use of the term “homeless” and how all residents of this city relate to each other.

Joe Sciarrillo is a photojournalist, social worker, and author of Bay Area Underground: Photos of Protests and Social Movements, 2008-2012.

homeless.1

Homeless camper on 13th and Mission streets asked drivers for spare change at an intersection where police often attempt to curb panhandling. This photo was taken in February 2016 when the city began massive sweeps of homeless encampments in the Mission District. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.2

Homeless camper on 13th and Mission streets remained after a recent sweep by city officials displaced over a dozen people. February 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.3

Mike (above) discussed what it’s like to be homeless on Division St. as the city announced plans to push the homeless out of the area. He stated, “It’s messed up how [city officials] are treating the people out here…they don’t have any where to go…People are just out here trying to survive and live…and I’m homeless and I’m still trying to help people…some people were just dealt bad hands.” February 25, 2016. Screenshot of Video by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.6

A homeless camper on 13th and Bryant streets posts a sign, pleading to the city to stop plans to displace campers. The sign reads: “We are Real people!” February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.7

Tent encampments were lined up along 13th St. and South Van Ness Ave. on February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.8

13th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.9

13th and Harrison streets. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.10

13th and Harrison streets after the displacement. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.11

13th and Bryant streets. With skyrocketing rent prices, many San Francisco residents resort to living in cars and RVs. This photo was taken in 2013 before the large tent encampments started. 13th street had been a common place for RV parking until the city placed further parking restrictions on RVs. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.12

13th and Bryant streets. Community Ambassadors from the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) along with the Homeless Outreach Team (seen in the background) spoke to folks living on the street as city officials were publicly declared that all public encampments would be cleared out the next day. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.14

13th and Bryant streets after the displacement. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.13

13th and Harrison streets before the displacement. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.15

13th St. and Harrison St. after the displacement. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.4

A homeless camper on 13th and Bryant streets rested next to his belongings hours after dozens of tents were kicked out of the north side of 13th Street. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.5

The same man on 13th and Bryant streets rested next to his belongings hours after dozens of tents were kicked out. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.16

Artwork on 13th and Harrison streets mocks the city’s displacement of homeless encampments. Mayor Ed Lee came under heavy criticism for targeting visible signs of homelessness during the city’s hosting of Superbowl events in February 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.17

13th and Harrison streets hours after dozens of tents were kicked out. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.18

The Department of Public Works posted signs and barricades on the sidewalks along 13th Street, declaring the space a “Public Health Nuisance.” February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless.19

At 9th and Bryant streets Slim panhandles. He lives in a tent nearby. February 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless20

13th and Harrison streets. This city’s Department of Public Health posted signs, warning of the plans to remove the tents. February 25, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless21

13th and Harrison streets. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless22

13th and Harrison streets. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless23

The Coalition on Homelessness posted its own solutions to addressing the “health needs of campers,” and called for a “Moratorium on Sweeps.” 13th and Harrison streets. March 2, 2016. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless25

Police interact with homeless campers at 13th and Mission St. 2015. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

homeless24

Photo taken in 2013 of one of the few homeless encampments along 13th St. at the time. This was at 13th and Folsom streets. The woman on the right, Elaine lived on that corner until she passed away in summer of 2015. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.