Group takes over SF buildings to fight for homeless


On Geary Street between Polk and Van Ness, a handful of protesters took over a building. These people are big advocates of squatting, which they say can solve the homeless problem in San Francisco.

Earlier Monday evening dozens of protesters marched through the streets chanting, "Fight, take over. Occupy everything!"

Along the way, they pointed to a vacant building they say is perfectly suited for the homeless.

"As a squatter, I share my resources. I share my skills and doing public demonstrations like this is one way to hopefully inspire people to take back what's in the waste stream," said protester Matt Crain.

The group, Homes Not Jails, organized the demonstration, which coincides with World Homeless Action Day. Organizers say vacant buildings like the former Cathedral Hill Hotel should be opened up to the homeless. Several protesters went so far as to march right by security and enter the building. A handful of them made it to the roof, while others displayed banners. They say they plan to stay until they're dragged out.

"This entire building could house all of the houseless families in this city, as well as a lot of single adults who are in SRO's or who are on the street," said protester Tiny Garcia.

So far, police have stood by and watched, waiting to get direction from the property owner. California Pacific Medical Center, which owns the Cathedral Hill Hotel property, plans to build a hospital on the site next year. Its spokesperson says in the meantime, the building just isn't safe.

"Most of the fittings have been taken out, so it's not particularly safe inside. So the concern is not necessarily that they're in there, but that it may be a dangerous facility for them to be in," said CPMC spokesperson Kevin McCormack.

Protesters, however, remained defiant. They headed over to yet another vacant property, this one on Geary Street. It's unclear who owns that 17-unit apartment building, but protesters say property owners in general are to blame for society's woes.

"When the 1 percent is stealing everything from everybody, it becomes our duty to fight back against that," said protester Lydia Heather Blumberg.

Officers are keeping an eye on the Geary Street building, but so far they haven't made a move. Protesters at that location plan to stay through the night.

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