A woman working to reduce her belongings to two bags. Photo by Natalia Gurevich

4:45 p.m.

Chelsea Crumpler with the Coalition on Homelessness said the efforts for today and the coming days are being coordinated by the Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC). The Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is helping with transport and outreach.

The bottlenecks around the intake process – such as the time it can take to persuade someone, and the inability to transport more than two individuals at a time – means that only about 20 people are going to be moved every day. And adding to those difficulties is the last-minute scramble because, Crumpler said, it’s the day of that the HOT team finds out the number of rooms to fill, tracks down the people who qualify, and pinpoints a streetcorner for the pickup.

12:42 p.m.

It appears that only about six more people will be transported today. Mark, a supervisor of the HOT team, said the operation will unfold over the next two weeks. He declined to say where they would be focusing next because they don’t want homeless residents from other parts of the city to move into the Tenderloin. There are plans in motion for other parts of the city that need attention. The operation is being done without the help of the police. Sources said earlier in the day that the plan is to move 300 homeless residents into hotel rooms.

12:25 p.m.

As the HOT team works to move people from the streets into the hotels, the residents have to reduce their belongings to two bags. Another difficulty is the limited number of ADA-accessible rooms — apparently there have only been four available in the last month that can accommodate a disabled person. The Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is a group of outreach workers who are employed by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Nevertheless, the HOT Team is now picking up another six homeless residents at Turk and Hyde Streets.

Jason, a resident, approached the HOT team on the corner and advocated for someone over the age of 65, who he knows. They explained they are only aiding residents of the Tenderloin today, and a HOT supervisor advised Jason to reach back out about the 65-year-old later by text.

12:02 p.m.

Crumpler said that she has been told that eight people have been picked up so far today in the city’s efforts to move as many as 300 homeless residents off the streets in the Tenderloin and into hotel rooms. The city is only sending one van every half hour and only putting one or two people on at a time because of COVID-19 concerns.  “And it’s hard because some people wander off,” away from the waiting van, said one DPH worker. A member of the HOT team said that, most likely tomorrow, they will be working at McAllister and Hyde Streets.

11:29 a.m.

A deployment is under way this morning to move perhaps 300 homeless residents off the streets of the Tenderloin and into unused hotel rooms, according to multiple city sources. Just how difficult that would be became clear early on as HOT Team workers tried to convince a couple at Turk and Hyde to step into a van to be transported to the Cova Hotel. According to Chelsea Crumpler, an outreach coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness, there are 141 rooms available at the Cova Hotel.

At present, the HOT Team knows of 15 rooms they are trying to fill with individuals or couples. At this time, one individual has boarded the transport bus. His girlfriend, concerned that they may be separated, resisted.

Her partner asked the woman’s mother to call to convince her, but his girlfriend refused to pick up her phone, saying, “That’s not my mother.” The bus left without her and with only the one homeless resident. The HOT Team will most likely follow up with her tomorrow, said one of the HOT workers.

A member of the San Francisco Fire Department trying to convince a woman to join her partner on the bus to be taken to a hotel room. Photo by Natalia Gurevich.
The bus leaving for the hotel with only one-half of a couple. His girlfriend feared they would be separated. Photo by Natalia Gurevich.

10:17 a.m.

DPH workers on the scene told Mission Local they did not know how many hotel rooms would be used, and that they were surveying the situation on the streets. They will get started, they said, once they know how many hotel rooms are available. As of June 10, the city reported that 308 hotel rooms set aside for homeless and vulnerable populations were unused.

In early May, the city came up with a new plan to deal with the sharp increase in the number of tents in the Tenderloin. That plan was criticized as too little too late —and today’s action comes on the very day Supervisor Matt Haney is holding a hearing on its progress.

Haney said nobody informed him of today’s activities.

The “Tenderloin Plan” was to first focus on 13 blocks with 159 tents, 32 encampments, and 153 individuals, according to an April 22 count that measured the increase since January.  Six of those 13 blocks had no homeless services. The April count showed a 71 percent increase in tents citywide and a 285 percent jump in the Tenderloin to 268 tents “including 18 sites with 6 or more tents and structures.”

So far, the city has opened three new safe sleeping sites including a new one on Monday at Everett Middle School.

In the Tenderloin today June 11, 2020. Photo by Natalia Gurevich.

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Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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18 Comments

  1. Finally. I hope this actually happens. As a long time Tenderloin resident, I suffer the consequences of city inaction. Housing is the solution to homelessness. This is a start.

    David Elliott Lewis

    1. Unfortunately, as the paranoid girlfriend in this article indicates, housing is not the solution to mental illness and drug abuse.

      1. Do you know the woman or her boyfriend or what either one of them is like? Maybe she has good reason not to want to shelter in place with the guy? If you don’t want to share a hotel room with him then why should she be willing to?

    2. We could house every individual in the PIT count twice over – at market rates – given the existing budget for homelessness. The problem is that it is not only about housing, but severe addiction and mental illness. Not sure we will ever solve a problem we continue failing to honestly and accurately define.

  2. When will this happen in the Mission/Castro? I know they’ve opened the site at Everett MS but that could probably be filled up just with the tents within a 1-block radius. The situation on 16th street has been deteriorating for quite some time.

    1. When the Mission and Castro look more like the Tenderloin than they do today, unfortunately. The Everest MS site is half full at best.

      1. Sup. Mandelman hosts 2pm Zoom calls with his constituents every Friday where you can ask him to take more direct action in relocating people to safer places.

      2. How can U tell? Cuz there’s a vision blocking fence around it. The site at Haight & Stanyan is full w a 50 Person waiting list. I know cuz I’m homeless at the DMV on Oak. Please know for sure B4 saying your’s is half empty on June 12….is it full now on June 20?? Cuz We over here at the DMV are chaffing at the bit to go ANYWHERE better than this!!!

    2. They’ve opened a site at Everette Middle School? You mean on the sidewalks and beneath the palms? Cause that’s where they are pitching their tents.

  3. I am surprised that DPH workers are doing this without SFPD help. It makes sense – just surprising.

  4. Conservatorship laws need to be reformed in order to compel treatment for the underlying debilitating drug addiction and mental health issues.

    Additionally, despite what a (single) oft-cited “study” proclaims, there is no way that 70% of those languishing on the streets of the Tenderloin are formerly-housed San Franciscans.

    1. A person can catch a ride to SF, spend a few days on a friend or family members couch, thus, they were formerly housed… Or, yeah, they were formerly housed, then they were evicted for non payment of rent, must have had something to do with that meth addiction, who knows? (shrugs)

  5. While many people don’t see them or even know they exist, there are approximately 2,500 children who live in the Tenderloin. Except for Boeddeker Park, which is open for limited hours, there is nowhere for kids to spend time outside. About 200 of the neighborhood kids attend Tenderloin Community School – nearly two thirds of the student body. I know the school well: my daughter attended TCS from pre-K through fifth grade before moving on to middle school last fall, and I have remained actively involved with the school.
    Since March, teachers and other TCS staff have conducted regular wellness checks with school families. Most report that they have not gone outside since the shelter in place began. That has been my impression as well: every day I bike and walk around the neighborhood, but I almost never see anyone from the school that I know.
    Throughout the shelter in place, exercise and other outdoor activities have been encouraged because they are crucial to physical and mental health. But TL residents have nowhere nearby they can go to for recreation, and even navigating the sidewalks for a neighborhood walk is a challenge. Significantly reduced Muni service makes it hard to get to other less-crowded and greener parts of the city. My young friends in the TL have been stuck inside for nearly three months and, without action, that will continue through the summer. The lack of safe outdoor activity space for kids is a public health issue in its own right.
    There are many ways to create some spaces for kids to use that will still allow for social distancing and not be punitive to the people, also neglected by the city but at least recognized, who are living on the sidewalks. The city needs to close streets to create long-term and “pop up” safe spaces for kids to bike, skate and ride scooters; to run around; to make chalk drawings; to see their friends even if from a safe distance. It took no time for the city to close off vehicular access to the greater Union Square area to defend high-end retail from imagined future looters (as if they would actually drive their cars right up to the stores they were going to target).
    Kids in the Tenderloin are infinitely more important than luxury goods and a few windows. It’d be nice if the city could offer them the respect, support and opportunities they deserve – to act as quickly for them as they did for Macy’s, Louis Vuitton, Crate & Barrel, Swatch and Victoria’s Secret, at a fraction of the cost. But if the city can do almost nothing for the people living in dire circumstances on the street, maybe it’s too much to ask that they do something for kids they can’t even see.

  6. What about the Mission? There are several long time encampments, including bicycle chop shops that never go away.

  7. I’m homeless outside the DMV on Oak. The encampment at Haight & Stanyan filled up in 48 hrs. There’s a 50+ waiting list. We are All on it. We don’t want to get covid-19 or give it to anyone else. Come talk to us if you want to know. Please don’t let the Mayor, the press or anyone else talk for Us. Please get Us a portable sink & port a John. They have one in this lot for the Farmer’s Market for less than 24 hrs/wk. Why not leave it here 7 days a week? The DMV has to powerwash it’s back exterior wall 5 days a week cuz we r forced to use it as a port a John. Please look into India’s recent “End Open Defecation” Initiative. Which is wildly successful btw. Talk about gone far enough…..HELP US B4 WE GET ALL OF U SICK!!!!!!

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