Protesters Rally Outside Super Bowl City to Draw Attention to San Francisco's Homeless Issue

Hundreds of protesters aimed at drawing attention to San Francisco's homeless issue marched around Super Bowl City in the Embarcadero and snarled traffic late Wednesday.

Many demonstrators carried tents as the group planned to set up a tent city near the Ferry Building before the evening commute. Police in riot gear stood watch and made the protesters remove the tents, calling it an illegal encampment.

Protesters instead held the tents up for high for hours during the demonstration.

"I certainly don't have solutions, but I think we need to put more resources toward it," protester Donna Dupont said of San Francisco's homeless issue.

Dupont said she is frustrated city officials moved the homeless along to build Super Bowl City, sometimes confiscating their tents and pushing them to shelters.

"It's a ridiculous equation to say I'm taking your tent away because I have enough shelter beds," Dupont said.

Advocates said the city and Mayor Ed Lee are trying to get the homeless out of the Super Bowl spotlight. They also said the $5 million the city spent on Super Bowl-related events could have been used for services to help the homeless.

The Mayor's Office said San Francisco spends more than $241 million a year on homeless services.

City officials on Wednesday also showcasing a new shelter facility along Pier 80, which includes beds, showers and an office being built for case workers to help the homeless during the El Niño storms.

Officials said they will provide transportation for the homeless to get to and from the shelter. The city also said the timing of the move is about weather and not about the Super Bowl.

"Maybe you're speeding this up because there are tourists coming to town in big numbers," said Sam Dodge with the San Francisco Mayor's Office. "Well, the tourists are gone Monday and the storms will hit in February and March. We really need to be ready."

The Pier 80 facility will open Thursday for a limited number of people. City officials expect the facility to be fully operational in a few days.

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