More San Francisco homeless residents living in tent cities

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's mayor recently ignited controversy by saying the homeless would have to leave the area around Super Bowl City.

It's not clear if the Super Bowl is the reason, but there appear to be more homeless living in tent cities. One San Francisco Supervisor wants to know what the city's plan is to get them access to shelters and housing.

There is a ban on tents in public spaces in San Francisco, but they are increasing. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener says they are health and safety hazard. Homeless advocates say they don't have enough shelter beds. More and more tent cities seem to appear every day, not just in San Francisco but across the Bay Area and the nation.

Christene Boyer says she lives at the tent city under Highway 101 near Cesar Chavez Street because shelters have too many rules and regulations. "I have a son with brain damage and schizophrenia and a service dog over 25 pounds. They won't let us in," Boyer said. She says more homeless are joining her encampment after being pushed from the downtown area.

Wiener says the tents are neither humane nor acceptable. He's written a letter to several department heads including police and public health. "I did not say in this letter that people should go in and bulldoze all the tents tomorrow. The goal is to have enough shelter capacity so that people can come out of the tents, off the streets and into shelters," Wiener said.

"What are we supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? I was already sleeping on the sidewalks," said Sean Pisciott, who is homeless.

Paul Boden is with an advocacy group and an expert on tent cities. He shared a photo of the opening of San Francisco's first homeless program in 1982 and says 34 years later the homeless are still being criminalized.

"The way you address homelessness is you build affordable housing, but in the meantime, if people are living unobstructed in a space, leave them the hell alone," said Boden of Western Regional Advocacy.

But Supervisor Wiener believes the public is growing increasingly concerned and wants to know the city's strategy.
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