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.

En medio del desorden, Nelson tiene lugares dedicados para almacenar lo esencial de todos los días. La guantera sirve como una mesita de noche que contiene cepillo de dientes, vasos, libreta de direcciones y condimentos para su próxima comida.

Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles

Este ensayo fotográfico acompaña a la historia “En la Ciudad, Fuera del Mapa: Los Franciscanos Luchan por Mantener sus Residencias Móviles,” que forma parte del proyecto “Conduciendo a Casa: Sobreviviendo la Crisis de la Vivienda” (Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis).

HOT workers and homeless man

Homeless Service Providers Ask City for $43 Million to Handle Pandemic Fallout

As San Francisco leaders look for ways to slash spending in the face of a huge budget shortfall, a coalition of homeless service providers is asking for an increase in funding over the next two fiscal years to address an expected surge in demand due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The 30-plus-member Homeless Emergency Services Providers Association presented a proposal Monday to Mayor London Breed’s budget office requesting more than $42.5 million for homelessness-related programs through 2022, roughly 23% more than the groups received the previous two years. The money would fund subsidies that could help house hundreds of individuals and families, bolster emergency shelters and homelessness prevention programs, and jumpstart the city’s first safe drug injection site — provided Assembly Bill 362,  which would permit pilot versions of such sites, survives the state Legislature this year and is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We all understand that this is a tough time for our city’s revenue and budget, but it’s also a very tough time for our residents,” Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district is home to many of the city’s unhoused residents, said about the proposal. “If we don’t invest in prevention and make sure that the most vulnerable people are taken care of, it can get much worse quickly.”

The service providers’ association has won funding for its members and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in the past, including more than $24 million in funding for various programs in the last fiscal year.

Mask distribution

As Fire Season Approaches, COVID-19 Strains Mask Supplies

The last few years’ fires are all blurring into one for Jessica Tovar, an Oakland resident and advocate at the nonprofit Local Clean Energy Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “I had an office that you could see the port of Oakland from, and in those times, you could not see the port because the smoke was so thick,” she said. Oakland was among the worst-hit cities when smoke from the 2017 Tubbs wildfires spread to the areas around San Francisco Bay, lowering air quality to levels comparable to Beijing, some of the worst in the world. As California’s fall wildfire season approaches, mask shortages mean Oakland residents are at risk of exposure to both coronavirus and to toxic smoke. Tovar, who frequently interacts with underserved Oakland residents, echoed the concerns of advocacy organizations that distribute masks.

Merced Domínguez observa a las palomas volar sobre su jardín en la calle Octava. "Todos los días, me siguen a donde quiera que vaya," dijo Domínguez, arrojando alpiste en la banqueta. “Todo el camino hasta el Dollar Tree y de vuelta a casa. Solo están esperando que los alimente." La rutina habitual de Domínguez consiste en colocar comida y agua en la banqueta afuera de su vehículo para los animales callejeros que visitan la manzana, incluyendo un gato callejero que llamó Cookie y las docenas de palomas que aparecen dos veces al día.

Berkeley Obliga a los Habitantes de Vehículos a Seguir Rodando

Este ensayo fotográfico acompaña a la historia “Sin Dirección, Sin Descanso: Berkeley Obliga a los Habitantes de Vehículos a Seguir Rodando,” que forma parte del proyecto “Conduciendo a Casa: Sobreviviendo la Crisis de la Vivienda” (Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis).

On a Sunday afternoon, children play in the Gilman District in West Berkeley. Their family is part of a community of vehicle residents called Friends on Wheels, whose members have parked and lived together for two years. The community is made up of families, students, gig workers, service workers and disabled and elderly people who live in all shapes and sizes of vehicles.

No Address, No Rest: Berkeley Forces Vehicle Dwellers to Keep Rolling

In a region where the cost of living has spiraled upward in the last decade, some who find themselves without housing opt for living in vehicles. Many view it as a temporary fix — an affordable shelter or intermediate stop they hope will put them on a path to stable, permanent housing. In Berkeley, a group of vehicle dwellers joined together and created their own support system.