Heartless San Francisco demolishes ‘Box City’ encampment in pouring rain

by Jennifer Friedenbach, Coalition on Homelessness

Box-City-demolished-in-pouring-rain-011017-by-COH-300x225, Heartless San Francisco demolishes ‘Box City’ encampment in pouring rain, Local News & Views
A City bulldozer, looking a lot like the ones that demolished the Fillmore District in the ‘70s, pushing out 50,000 Black people from the neighborhood known as Harlem of the West, demolishes the brave little encampment known as Box City some 40 years later. Acts like these brand all City statements honoring Dr. King as hypocrisy. – Photo: Coalition on Homelessness

San Francisco – In pouring down rain, city officials started clearing “Box City” at 7 a.m. this morning. The encampment, made up of men and women, including a tight knit group of Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, rushed this morning to move their belongings through deep puddles and across the street.

Meanwhile, city workers threw belongings into dumpsters and crushed previously occupied boxes.

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released best practice guidelines for municipalities recommending that individuals in encampments should have access to housing before they are removed from said areas and, if no such housing exists, to provide temporary shelter that leads to housing. San Francisco is violating those guidelines, as they are only offering temporary housing to camp residents. San Francisco also has the highest number of anti-homeless laws in the state.

Box-City-residents-save-homes-from-SF-bulldozers-in-pouring-rain-011017-by-COH-300x225, Heartless San Francisco demolishes ‘Box City’ encampment in pouring rain, Local News & Views
Box City residents, many Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, work desperately, as the pouring rain makes deep puddles deeper, to save their tiny homes, the only homes they have, from a heartless San Francisco administration. – Photo: Coalition on Homelessness

“As we are approaching our day to honor Martin Luther King, the poor treatment of Box City residents is an example of the fight Dr. King was leading for housing and economic justice for the poor. Here we are 50 years later and we still have unfinished business,” said Human Rights Organizer Bilal Ali. “The city must invest deeply in creating true solutions, such as housing for destitute San Franciscans.”

Camp residents can relocate to the Navigation Center and then likely return to the streets after 30 days, or they can move their manmade shelters a block or two away. Some of the boxes were relocated to Pier 50.

According to one camp resident who preferred to stay anonymous, “Thirty days in the navigation center just isnʼt enough time for me to get help. I canʼt even get my belongings over there.”

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, 468 Turk St., San Francisco, www.cohsf.org, can be reached at 415-346-3740, ext. 306, or jfriedenbach@cohsf.org.