San Francisco

Last Homeless Tents on San Francisco's Division Street Getting Cleared Out

After being put on notice for several days, the homeless people living along Division Street in San Francisco - the city's largest encampment under the Central Freeway - were being cleared out on Monday in a relatively calm sweep.

Police officers were seen peeking into tents and gently warning the homeless they must leave, and by 11 a.m., crews were hosing down sidewalks, with nary a tent in sight.

Last week, the Department of Public Health posted notices instructing anyone camped on Division to vacate the area between 11th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, director Barbara Garcia said.

The area, she said, is "insanitary due to accumulation of garbage, human feces, hypodermic needles, urine odors and other insanitary conditions, and it is hereby declared as a public nuisance."

Some city officials have opposed the relocation.

Supervisor Jane Kim said what's happening on Division Street is pushing people into other areas. She also wanted to remind people that this is a problem for the most vulnerable: More than 2,300 of the homeless in San Francisco are children. Kim calls this a moral and ethical dilemma.

Supervisor David Campos has also condemned the decision, calling it "inhumane" in a statement, and the people who have to live this reality can find no other word to describe it.

Many who live on the streets agree.

"It's kinda inhumane if you think about it," said John White, who says he's lived on the streets of San Francisco since 1989. "We don't have choice. "They're just gonna come and throw us out anyway ... There's nothing we can do. We don't have no voice."

Mayor Ed Lee is touting a new homeless facility at Pier 80, three miles away, but many of the 150 beds there remain empty. 

"They take our stuff, put it into container and I won't have access to stuff. That's basically like being in jail," White said.

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