2 homeless women took over empty house in SF's Castro neighborhood, say they plan to do it again

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A disabled firefighter and a dog walker both have one thing in common; they're homeless and crying out for help.

"The city has turned its back on me a disabled firefighter. I don't have any housing, so I have to do something like this because I don't have any place to go," said Couper Orona.

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Orona has been homeless for five years living in her RV. She says an injury on the job as a firefighter and street medic and divorce left her living out on the streets.

Jessica Gonzales has been homeless for over a year after her landlord allegedly did not approve of her a service dog in the building.

"The right thing to do but to also show their neighbor or whoever help each other. That's what I wanted. And to have a place to stay. I didn't know what could happen but I took a gamble and it's better than nothing," said Orona.

This action was organized by the group Reclaim SF. Quiver Watts with the organization says the housing movement was inspired by "Oakland Moms 4 Housing."

"San Francisco passed Prop C with 62% of the votes. London Breed was supposed to open 4,000 units for homeless housing but she has failed to implement Prop C and the emergency order that supervisors passed to place homeless people into hotels," said Watts.

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According to San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman there are 30,000 vacant hotel rooms that could be used to house those in need during this pandemic.

"There are practical challenges around doing that it is not just a matter of getting the hotel room. It requires staffing and so it's not something you can make happen overnight. But I believe the mayor is trying," said Supervisor Mandelman.

For now, Mandelman's office is looking into different solutions.

As to the women inside the home, they were cited and exited the property peacefully after 3 hours.

"I didn't know what could happen but I took a gamble and it's better than nothing," said Orono.

Reclaim SF said they found the vacant home on several real estate websites and found the doors 'unlocked.' This group is planning to take over other empty homes in San Francisco as protest.

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