City report shows 285-percent rise in homeless tents, structures in San Francisco's Tenderloin

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Thursday, May 7, 2020
City report shows 285-percent rise in homeless tents in SF Tenderloin
San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson tells ABC7 News there is a dramatic rise in homeless people coming from out of town making for a total increase of 285-percent in homeless tents and structures.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new citywide report shows that homeless tents and structures have risen by 285-percent in San Francisco's Tenderloin in the last four months.

San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson tells ABC7 News there is a rise in homeless people coming from out of town.

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"My people are telling me there are unhoused folks coming from out of town basically trying to get themselves on a list for housing. Some are being released from jail and sent here from Stockton, from Lake County, so they're coming from all over."

Kelley Cutler is with the Coalition on Homelessness. She says she has helped pass out more than a thousand tents.

"How many weeks are we into this pandemic and we still don't have a place for folks who are forced to sleep on the streets?" she asked.

The city says more than 1,000 homeless individuals have been moved into hotel rooms but that is far less than the seven to eight thousand talked about early on.

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Chief Nicholson represents more than 1,700 in the department and says individuals are coming here for specific reasons.

"From my folks out on the street, there are people coming in because they think that they can come to San Francisco party and get some handouts whether it's a hotel room or tent or whatever," says the chief.

ABC 7 news contributor Phil Matier says this is a big problem and it doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. "The idea that more people are coming in and actually looking for hotel rooms really puts a strain on a system that is already really not up and running that smoothly."

Chief Nicholson says it's in her department's nature to help everyone but this is directly impacting those who were already living in the city. "More and more folks want to come to the city when we have plenty of folks here who we need to take care of already."

The San Francisco mayor says a plan is now in place to address this block by block in the Tenderloin.

Spacing some of these folks out and using a street area near the library. Advocates believe more hotel rooms are needed and more space for tents. Those advocates also disagree with the fire department saying that many of these homeless folks are local.

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