Refuge From the Storm

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Division Street, San Francisco- SFPD & DPW did “sweeps” of the encampment and erected a fence.

 

We went on a 5AM outreach shift this morning because folks in the encampments were told by SFPD that they were going to be doing sweeps and taking their tents and stuff. We didn’t see cops or DPW, but it looks like they’d already made the rounds, at least to this area. 

In this past week the City has erected a fence to keep people away. It really sucks because this is an area they might actually have a chance of staying somewhat protected from the storms. Those fences aren’t cheap either.

We spoke with the folks who were awake. None of them were aware of emergency shelters… which are extremely limited. We keep hearing in the media that people are refusing help, but everyone we spoke with was interested in hearing about what resources were available.

Met a very nice younger couple… the woman was on crutches and recently had surgery. Lost her housing while in the hospital and discharged to the street… during El Niño.

We constantly hear how people don’t want help, but they were eager to find a safe place to get some food, rest, and to dry out a bit. We were informed that the emergency shelters would be “low threshold”… meaning fewer barriers and hoops to jump through that keep people away. A huge barrier is when they segregate people by gender because it’s traumatizing living on the street and folks feel safe with their support network.

Since this wasn’t a barrier they wanted to go so we drove them over. We decided to go in with them to make sure everything went smoothly… because we know the system and how issues come up.

We went in and were informed that they couldn’t stay together… that was a deal breaker. We called the City hire ups who had informed us these barriers wouldn’t be an issue, but it’s tough to get anyone to pick up a phone on a Saturday at 6:30 AM.

And yet people are labeled as not wanting help. That’s a lie.

All that being said… I love going on outreach because the people I encounter are awesome! They deserve better from society and from our City.

Oh, and I was thrilled to have Fr. Richard join us for outreach this morning!! He mentioned to folks that they’ve opened a The Gubbio Project at his church and he was so well received. I wish other clergy could see how their presence on the street is so needed and appreciated.  During El Niño, faith communities need to open their doors to those seeking refuge from the storms.

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