It was a lively morning at 22nd and Mission streets, where some 50 activists and community members gathered to share tamales and protest the upcoming eviction of 2,400 unhoused San Francisco residents who have been living in hotels during the shelter-in-place order.
Silvia Viviana stood tall on a stage and listed off a litany of demands, including an “immediate end to street sweeps, the creation of long-term pathways to permanent housing, and an end to subsidies for capitalist real estate moguls.”
Viviana is a Mission resident who volunteers for Hotels Not Hospitals, a community organization that organized the protest and has been working against displacement since the pandemic began. Viviana says that San Francisco should use eminent domain, the right of a government to use private property for public use, to appropriate empty unused buildings for unhoused San Franciscans.
“We want to take action and demand an end to all evictions,” Viviana said.
C.H. Zazueta, a 23-year-old Mission resident, echoed Viviana’s demands, and added that “we must build networks of mutual aid to provide resources to unhoused neighbors.”
The speakers cheered and onlookers waved signs calling for “Housing for People, Not Profits.”
Many questioned the city’s logic in displacing people from shelter-in-place hotels when coronavirus infections are increasing rapidly.
At present, the city plans to move the first wave of homeless residents out of hotels and into Navigation Centers on Dec. 21. Activists said these centers are already overcrowded. The city has also proposed to provide bus tickets out of San Francisco and housing vouchers to unhoused people.
Hotels Not Hospitals formed in March in response to the pandemic crisis, and since then it has been raising money to “rent hotel rooms for unsheltered folks using community-donated funds.”
So far, they have raised enough to house seven people in hotels, according to Evan Owski, a 33-year-old fundraiser and social media manager for the group At present, the city has 2,306 unhoused residents in hotel rooms. They plan to keep the seven in the hotel rooms indefinitely. The group organized another protest this morning in the Financial District which happened concurrently.