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Action on Division Street in Support of Unhoused Residents

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Guest Post By Amy Farah Weiss

One of the biggest complaints and public health hazards on Division Street has stemmed from the lack of 24/7 access to toilets. Instead of addressing this issue of health and human dignity in a responsible and cost-effective way by providing monitored port-a-potties, City Hall chose to ignore the needs of unhoused residents, neighbors, and local businesses. In order to show City Hall what’s possible and provide a necessary service, the Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge is organizing a monitored port-a-potty at Division and 11th Street from 9PM on Thursday February 25th through noon on Friday February 26th. SFHC is also coordinating a few additional service offerings, which currently include acupuncture and phone charging for unhoused neighbors. Volunteer shifts to monitor the port-a-potty with a partner, offer healing services, make signage, or bring donations of food/drink/supplies are available online at http://goo.gl/forms/pcboIPw0Kc.

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Be a witness to injustice

In anticipation of Mayor Lee’s 72-hour warning that all unhoused neighbors will be displaced from Division Street, the Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge is joining the Coalition on Homelessness in asking neighbors, advocates, and allies to come out to Division Street between Van Ness and 11th with your smart phones and/or cameras to document any sweeps that occuron Friday the 26th starting as early as 5AM. In addition to documenting the removal of unhoused residents and their belongings, the SFHC is also presenting information regarding the rights of unhoused residents and advocating for city-approved alternative locations for safe sleep, 24/7 access to toilets, and increased access to healing and transition services. RSVP here.

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Photo by Kelley Cutler

Mayor Lee: If not Division, where?

Isn’t San Francisco supposed to be a city of innovation? Why are PortlandEugene, and Seattle ahead of San Francisco when it comes to sanctioned sleep and essential services support for their unhoused residents? 

Mayor Lee knows that Pier 80, the Navigation Shelter, and other shelters do not have the capacity to support the thousands of unhoused residents who live in a state of daily crisis on our streets. The following question demands a detailed answer: “If you force unhoused residents from Division Street, what specific sites are you making available?”. According to the Department of Justice, Ed Lee is violating the 8th amendment by criminalizing sleep, an essential human function, without providing a viable alternative. If hundreds of people must leave Division Street and SoMa, where are they allowed to sleep? “Quality of Life” citations and criminalization only perpetuate costly misery and produce terrible outcomes. There is more room available at Pier 80 to expand interim shelter by putting up port-a-potties and allowing unhoused residents to set up tents in the massive parking lot. There is also plenty of underutilized publicly-owned land that is more ideal than Division Street for sanctioned interim sleep and service areas.

 

Turn outrage into neighborly action

It’s not enough to get outraged about government failure and social injustice. We must challenge ourselves to find solutions, advocate for them, and take direct action when necessary. Like Francis of Assisi said, “First do what’s necessary, then do what’s possible.” Test your knowledge about homelessness in San Francisco and learn how to get involved with advocacy and action atwww.SaintFrancisChallenge.com.

 

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cover photo via sfchronicle.com

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1 Comment

  1. Jack
    February 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I’m interested to know where the ruling on the 8th Amendment about allowing people to sleep anywhere ends and where “camping” and taking up permanent residence in a tent or makeshift wooden shelter begins. On the extremes you have people sleeping out in the open on a park bench all the way through to the person building a 500+ square foot wooden structure.