Homeless a growing problem for SFPD at SFO

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco International Airport has become a magnet for homeless people, looking for a warm safe shelter and they come by way of BART into the airport terminal. It's an issue police are trying to deal with.

We asked Michael, who is 32, if he had any place to go.

"No, not now."

RELATED: Officials say homeless using SFO as refuge

Michael is one of many homeless people who come to San Francisco International Airport to find shelter. A comfortable, warm, safe environment to bed down for the night.

Most, police say, come on BART. Its station at SFO is at the International Terminal. Airport spokesman Doug Yakel says the Airport is for the traveling public.

"Being confronted by homelessness is really not what we want to offer our passengers."

Airport police are trying to stop their migration.

"One way we're trying to stop it is by increasing enforcement at BART," SF Deputy Chief Mikail Ali told us.

Airport worker Bethe Mounce says there are many places for them to hide.

"Since I work in the International Terminal, I would know where the nooks and crannies are. And I look around cause I believe everyone should be safe."

RELATED: History of how many people are homeless in the Bay Area

When we were at SFO for a day, we had no problem finding homeless people wandering around.

Deputy Chief Mikail is in charge of the SFPD Airport Bureau. He suggested that we meet the last BART train of the night. The train that comes into the Airport at 1:40 a-m.

Its passengers-- mostly homeless.

"It's generally a large group between 20 to 30 people and it happens every single night," Ali told us.

So, we waited for the last BART train of the night. To see if what we were told is true, to see who's on it.

Just about 15 minutes before the train's arrival, BART officers arrived. Then-- a group of SFPD officers positioned themselves at the station doors that led to the terminal.

The 1:40 arrived right on time.

The BART cops went into the train as some passengers disembarked. A few were airport workers, presumably on the overnight shift. Almost all-- appeared to be transients.

More and more came out from the train as the BART officers swept each car. An Airport Duty manager confronted a fare evader who was leaving through the emergency gate. He asked him and others if they had plane tickets.

SFO policy, he said, allowed only ticket holders and authorized personnel to be at Airport between 10 pm and 6 am.

On this night, the Duty Manager told us, 15 transients were on the train. They were all greeted and briefed at the station doors by San Francisco police.

"We provide these people with resources, where they can go and get shelter, food and we give them a bus token to get there," said Ali.

The officers took each one to a waiting elevator down to a SamTrans bus stop which operates all night long.

It was another routine night at San Francisco International Airport. Sad-- but true.

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