San Francisco's Largest Homeless Encampment Cleared By Police

SAN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 28:  Joseph Cappa, a homeless person,  pushes his shopping cart through a residential neighborhood F
SAN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 28: Joseph Cappa, a homeless person, pushes his shopping cart through a residential neighborhood February 28, 2007 in San Francisco, California. According to a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are over 750,000 homeless people that live on the streets, shelters and transitional housing throughout the United States. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the past, when police officers cleared the popular homeless encampment under Interstate 280, the majority of individuals simply returned when the coast was clear.

But this time, San Francisco officials want to make sure a different outcome ensues. So they're trying a different tactic.

Instead of raiding the camp and providing its residents with information on outreach programs, workers are escorting each and every individual -- and their belongings -- to a triage center nearby. There, they will be able to seek shelter while accessing a variety of services, including mental and physical health checks and housing assistance.

"This is not an appropriate place for human habitation," San Francisco's homeless czar, Bevan Dufty, said as the camp was cleared out on Monday. "But everyone's tired of just pushing people around -- the outreach teams, the police, the homeless. So we're trying something new, and it's about getting people on the right path."

Officials estimate that nearly three dozen homeless people will take refuge in the triage center, where they will be able to stay for three days.

Despite Dufty's criticisms of the encampment, however, many of the folks who lived there appreciated its strong sense of community. "We all get along and take care of each other," Richie Rosales told the San Francisco Examiner.

Still, many members of the newly-displaced homeless population appeared grateful. "They're nice to be offering to help," David George, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I desperately want my own place to live."

After the raid was complete, Caltrans officials began installing $300,000 worth of specialized fencing to keep out future trespassers.

Officials cleared out a similar homeless encampment in San Jose over the weekend.



Hospitality for the Homeless: The Gubbio Project