Homeless advocates say pressure on those living on the streets in San Francisco appears to be increasing in the lead up to the Super Bowl and they plan to stage protests outside city celebrations to remind visitors of their presence.
Homeless residents are reporting increased sweeps from city crews moving them out of areas and removing their belongings, according to Jennifer Friedenbach with the Coalition on Homelessness.
While it initially appeared some were being pushed away from the areas where the Super Bowl village is being set up into “tent cities” that have sprung up along areas such as Division Street, the sweeps more recently have also been conducted in the tent cities and near freeway entrances, Friedenbach said.
“It’s heating up,” Friedenbach said. “From homeless people’s perspective they’re feeling really squeezed.”
The coalition and other groups are planning to set up their own Homeless Super Bowl City outside the Super Bowl City fan village operating in the Justin Herman Plaza area from Jan. 30 through Feb. 7.
The protest is intended to draw attention to the fact that the city is spending money on an NFL event when residents remain homeless. The group is calling for the city to seek reimbursement for the event so that the money can be used on homeless services instead, and for the city to provide public space to create safe places for them to sleep and access services.
Among the organizers of the event is former mayoral candidate Stuart Schuffman, who said the protest would occur at a time when there will be “tens of millions of eyes on San Francisco.”
“We need to use this opportunity to show that the people in power would rather hide ‘our problems’ than fix them,” he said.
The mayor’s office did not return a request for comment today.
The protest is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 4:30 p.m., with organizers gathering at Pier 2.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News