People congregate on the sidewalk to chat and sell found goods outside the Tenderloin Museum on Leavenworth and Eddy streets in late June.

What Crowding Looks Like During a Pandemic: Dismal Days in the Tenderloin

In a pandemic that mandates physical distancing, survival in the poverty-suffused Tenderloin is endangered by relentlessly overcrowded conditions, a dearth of open public spaces and limited mobility. Neighborhood residents suffer the city’s second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections — eclipsed only by the Bayview — and five times that of neighboring Nob Hill.

Online Census Yields Mixed Accessibility Results

This year the census, a constitutionally mandated count of every person in the country every 10 years, is being conducted primarily online for the first time. While the shift offered convenience to the digitally connected, many communities already considered “hard to count” include people with limited digital tools or literacy that put the digital questionnaire out of reach. With the coronavirus pandemic and confusing federal directives, the in-person enumeration most likely to document them has been delayed and cut short.

2018 Providence, RI Census.

Threats to Exclude Undocumented From Census Exemplify Fears of Other ‘Hard-to-Count’ Communities

The decennial census is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. And according to the Project on Government Oversight, California can also expect to receive more than $170 billion in census-guided federal funding over the next ten years. In a July memo, the President sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count used to apportion representatives. But past encounters with well-meaning government agents have already made some homeless, poor, undocumented and otherwise marginalized people skeptical that being counted will actually benefit them.

S.F. to Stop Leasing New Shelter-in-Place Hotel Rooms

San Francisco will stop acquiring shelter-in-place hotel rooms for the city’s vulnerable residents and essential workers, the Emergency Operations Center confirmed in a statement late Wednesday. The city will continue to use the approximately 2,600 rooms under contract and plans to phase out the program by June 2021, the department said.

Health Right

COVID-19 Opens New Frontiers in Addiction Medicine

When Mayor London Breed announced a strict shelter-in-place order on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, health facilities scrambled to identify ways to safely see patients. For addiction medicine doctors, this presented a particularly difficult challenge: Patients engaged in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction must be seen frequently, often every few days. Regular doctor visits are not just helpful for people’s recovery but until that point had been required by the federal government for the dispensing of certain opioid addiction medications. As doctors across San Francisco switched to telehealth visits — talking to patients over the phone or through video chat — an unexpected shift took place. Missed appointments, a norm before the shelter-in-place order, became rare.

City Clears Homeless Residents From Notorious Tenderloin Alley

Like most of the homeless residents on Willow Street Tuesday morning, Leif Skorochod was headed for either a city-sanctioned tent camp or the barracks-style homeless shelter at Moscone Convention Center after city workers arrived early that morning and gave them a choice: Accept shelter or leave. Homeless Outreach Team members discussed placement options with tent residents while Public Works crews tossed items into truck beds. At least two residents received hotel rooms because they have underlying health conditions. The rest of those the Public Press spoke to were either headed to Moscone or a sanctioned camp site.

A vehicle home is parked in Bayview.

Photojournalist Documents Vehicle Dweller Communities While Living in RV

In the reporting series “Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis,” photojournalist Yesica Prado documents life on four wheels in Berkeley and San Francisco. The project, in partnership with CatchLight Local, offers an intimate look at what it really means for home to be a vehicle in the Bay Area, whether it’s an RV with lots of space and utilities or a sedan with neither. But with housing out of reach, for many, a tent is the only other option. Prado, who was and is part of one of the vehicle dweller communities she documented, said that vehicle living comes with the daily task of avoiding parking or law enforcement and securing access to basic needs like hygiene, food and water. “People are definitely stuck in a cycle that you can’t escape.

Compass unhoused families

Service Providers Warn Budget Cuts Could Amplify Displacement Wave

San Francisco’s housing and homelessness service providers worry that City Hall’s budget decisions will leave them unprepared to face an expected wave of housing displacement. Interviews with staffers at a dozen nonprofits found that calls for assistance have increased by at least 30% and at some organizations by as much as 200% since March when the pandemic forced San Francisco residents to shelter in place amid a recession characterized by widespread income loss. Many providers are concerned expected city budget cuts will hobble their ability to provide vital aid like rental assistance, legal representation in eviction cases, food and emergency shelter, just when clients need help the most. One likely outcome of expected cutbacks they predicted: a worsening of the city’s already daunting homelessness crisis. “We’re all bracing ourselves for a huge growth in the numbers of those who are living on the streets, no question,” said Sara Shortt, director of public policy and community outreach at the Community Housing Partnership, a supportive housing nonprofit.

Tolbert gets dressed and does her curly hair for an afternoon work meeting. Tolbert says the RV “is a stepping stone because I want housing.” She is looking for a place costing no more than one-third of her income.

In the City, Off the Map: San Franciscans Struggle to Keep Their Mobile Residences

In San Francisco, stringent and widespread parking restrictions are a fact of life. But to the hundreds of city residents who live in their vehicles, these regulations can also be an obstacle to maintaining stability and getting off the streets. Vehicle dwellers play cat-and-mouse with the government’s enforcement apparatus, violating local laws to survive outdoors.

Tolbert le da un fuerte jale a la cuerda de su generador, que usa para prender las comodidades dentro de su RV cada día. Esto le permite usar electrodomésticos de cocina, la bomba de agua, luces y un calentador mientras recarga las baterías del vehículo por la noche. Tolbert comparte el generador con personas que viven en vehículos estacionados cerca de ella. En las calles, dijo, a las personas “no pensamos en ellos, punto.” Pero a través de la experiencia, muchos se vuelven fuertes después de ser derribados o descuidados por otros. “Te das cuenta de que vales la pena, en todas las maneras más difíciles. Y así es como es,” dijo. “Pero tú lo vales. Ustedes no saben su valor.”

En la Ciudad, Fuera del Mapa: Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles

En San Francisco, las restricciones de estacionamiento estrictas y generalizadas son una realidad. Pero para los cientos de residentes de la ciudad que viven en sus vehículos, estas regulaciones también pueden ser un obstáculo para mantener la estabilidad y salir de las calles. Los habitantes de los vehículos juegan al gato y al ratón con el gobierno, violando las leyes locales para sobrevivir al aire libre.