Today was World Homeless Day and, like last year, it was celebrated by local homeless advocates led by the squatters’ collective Homes Not Jails — with Frank Chu in an advisory role. Their main focus was occupying vacant buildings around the Tenderloin, as opposed to say, SOMA, North Beach, or everywhere else that’s vacant in SF these days.
According to their website, they gathered at Civic Center by Larkin & Fulton at 5pm and were joined by members of the hashtag-friendly OccupySF protestors. At this point, according to Chron intern Vivan Ho who was there, the group was about 20 people with nearly as many journalists covering it. Sounds like the SF I know and love…
The group then rallied towards the former Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1101 Van Ness Avenue, which was subsequently occupied. They reported that most if not all of the rooms remain furnished and in habitable condition. Apparently, the protesters were allowed to stay after security did a safety check through the building. Afterwards, at around 8pm, part of the group split and moved on to the former Charlie Hotel building at 1030 Geary, right above the shuttered Infusion Lounge. For a little bit, they partially blocked traffic on Polk Street but the police merely yawned as if saying it would be illegal were traffic not to be blocked on Polk.
I then stopped petting my neighbor’s cat and left the comfort of The Tender HQ to go check out the “action”. I saw about 50-70 people gathered in front of the building, which contains 17 apartment units that they said should be opened to homeless individuals immediately. They were all eating dinner (spaghetti, I think) served by what appeared to be the guys from Food Not Bombs. I overheard the leaders discussing where to go next, but there didn’t seem to be a clear plan. There were also a few people inside of the building, eating their dinner quietly as well. Across the street four media vans and a couple of police cars were watching the action. On my way back home I saw one of the cops buying some food at Jebena, presumably donuts.
I have no idea if more buildings were occupied as was their initial plan, but I wish they hadn’t focused exclusively on the buildings that are vacant because of the planned CPMC Hospital. For example, how about raising some attention towards 655 Geary? I mean, shouldn’t the main target for such actions be buildings that owners are deliberately keeping vacant for speculation (Hibernia Bank, anyone?) instead of the ones that have an actual development plan?