Deadline looms for homeless to leave tent city along Division Street

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Tuesday gave homeless residents now living in tents mainly along Division Street 72 hours to move out. The Health Department said sanitary conditions there were now posing an immediate health risk. The deadline to evacuate is 5 p.m. Friday.

Oscar McKinney has lived in his tent since September. McKinney bought four tents. He rents the others out. This landlord is ready for Friday's sweep.

"They may take my belongings, throw them away. Put my ass in jail for the day, but I'm going to stay," McKinney said.

Others say they're leaving.

"I told everyone to pack up and go. And just go. Go to the hills and eventually you will find a place to hang out," said Mark Arroyo, a homeless tent dweller.

Public health crews will begin cleaning Division Street and adjacent public areas because of increasing health risks posed by the homeless living in the tents.

Homeless advocate Jennifer Friedenbach says the sweep doesn't provide long-term solutions.

"Just simply going in and cleaning out an encampment when folks don't have a choice, just makes them more destabilized, Friedenbach said.

Sam Dodge, the mayor's point man in the city's fight against homelessness, says the health risk is immediate.

"We've been trying to give them as much time as possible. With the health standards reduced to a place no longer acceptable, we had to take action," Dodge said.

For months now, the city's homeless outreach teams have been trying to convince those in these tents to move. Many have found shelter in the new homeless facility on Pier 80. As of Thursday afternoon, 45 beds here were still open. Other shelters also say they can take in more people Thursday night.
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