Tag Archives: compassion

Open Letter to SF Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr

Cc: Justin Keller


I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing techie, hipster problem facing our city today. It’s getting really bad. I’ve been living here for over thirty years, and without a doubt, it is the worst it has ever been. Everyday, from the sidewalk, I see men in suits strolling the city, sipping seven-dollar cups of coffee, complaining about the weather and the lack of parking, as if they have anything to complain about. Not a cent to spare us homeless as they pass us on their way to work at their tech startups. Worst of all, it is increasingly unsafe.

As more and more of us cannot afford to live in the security of locked doors and four walls, and more and more of us are displaced to the streets, we are forced to make room for the rich folks, who spent last holiday weekend taking their Valentines out on hot dates in the city. There were three separate incidents in which I was harassed.

The first incident involved a drunken man leaving the bar I sleep behind sometimes. He came out the back and saw me, and took offense to me leaning against the bar. He must have come there looking for a fight, and he found me. Maybe he was trying to look tough in front of his friends or impress a chick or something. I was an easy target.

The second incident occurred in the streets of the financial district. A stranger approached me, high and distraught, yelling and screaming, begging for cocaine, unzipping his pants, and grabbing my hands, as well as the attention of the patrons of an adjacent restaurant, observing the show from the safety of a public, enclosed establishment.

The third incident occurred when I tried sneaking into the theater, harmlessly, out of the way, for some much needed shelter and rest, and caused the entire auditorium to evacuate in horror.

What are you going to do to address this problem? Fewer and fewer of this city’s residents have homes. We have no safe places left to go that don’t get in the rich folks’ way. I know people are frustrated about the homeless problem in the city, but the reality is, so are we, the homeless. The wealthy, privileged ones who can afford the education, or have the right connection, flooded in to fill the jobs that raised this city’s rent and sent us wandering its streets in the first place. My pain, my struggle, my despair — I, shouldn’t have to be the spectacle of people passing by me on their way to work every day.

I am telling you, we need to determine a solution. People on both sides are frustrated, and neither side is budging. The city needs to tackle the techies head on. We can no longer ignore this infestation of startups and hipsters. It is a difficult and complex situation, and I don’t have a magic solution, but maybe you do. You pulled off a massive operation during Super Bowl, relocating and hiding all the homeless, tucking us away out of the tourists’ sight. While all your sheltered residents were warm in bed, the streets were swept, our possessions confiscated, our makeshift homes demolished, and they hauled us all “away.” So surely, you could do the same with all the techies, just sweep them up and send them elsewhere, restoring the city’s rent back to affordable, so some of the homeless can move back into our homes, thus actually getting us off the city’s streets. Political leaders have the power to make more change than I do begging behind an empty cup.


Homeless in San Francisco