Public Press wins an Excellence in Journalism award for ‘Public Schools, Private Money,’ in the winter 2014 edition

 

Finding Alternatives for Homeless Encampments

By Mary Rees, KALW Crosscurrents

As California sloshes through its rainy season, homeless people around the Bay Area are looking for places to stay dry. In San Francisco, the spaces under freeways are popular, and groups of homeless people sometimes band together for their mutual protection. Still, as you might expect, living on the streets isn’t safe or easy.

“For people who are living outdoors, their life expectancy actually drops by a couple of decades,” says Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the city’s Coalition on Homelessness. “It’s really dangerous, and in these situations where you have an encampment where people can create community, create shelter and look after each other, it is a much better situation than, for example, running from doorway to doorway to try to find a safe place to sleep.”

Down the road from AT&T Stadium, squeezed between the Caltrain and the Muni tracks, a small group of people make their home beneath an I-280 on-ramp.

They pick up trash and sweep out their living spaces. They are a community. They are also trespassing on state-owned land. Caltrans has sent in law enforcement to clear people out more than once this year. Still the residents return.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents.