Change may be in the offing in a city that’s infamous for its homeless street camping and poop map.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Wednesday accused the homeless coalition of holding the city ‘hostage for decades.’
London made those comments while joining a crowd of more than 200 people who had gathered outside the federal courthouse to urge the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to cancel a federal judge’s order banning the city from clearing tent encampments until there are more shelter beds than homeless individuals.
‘The homeless coalition has held San Francisco hostage for decades. It is time for their reign to end,’ Breed said, noting that the city has spent billions of dollars to help homeless people.
People who want more tents cleared chanted ‘save our streets’ while a smaller crowd of those supporting the injunction rallied on the sidewalk beside them, chanting ‘stop the sweeps.’
The downtown courthouse is near a Whole Foods Market store that closed in April, citing worker safety amid deteriorating street conditions.
By San Francisco’s own estimates, there are more than 3,300 people sleeping in the city’s homeless shelters, with around 4,400 sleeping on the city’s streets on a given night.
The order banning the city from clearing homeless encampments until there are more shelter beds available has drawn furious responses from city leaders. But attorneys for homeless residents who sued the city argued before the panel that the district court judge was correct and they intend to ask the same judge at a hearing Thursday to enforce the injunction.
‘There are 3,000 shelter beds in the city for 7,000 or more unhoused people who are sleeping outside every night because they have no choice in the matter,’ said Zal Shroff, interim legal director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, at Wednesday’s rally.
It is unclear when the panel of Judges Patrick J. Bumatay, Roopali Desai and Lucy Koh will issue a decision. They sought clarifications from the other side on which enforcement actions were acceptable.
San Francisco officials say their encampment operations allow outreach workers to connect homeless people to services while cleaning areas soiled with trash, used needles, and spoiled food. Breed and others also say it’s inhumane to allow unhygienic encampments to fester, scaring away customers and blocking sidewalks for people who use wheelchairs.
Advocates for homeless people say the encampment operations merely serve to harass homeless people as there are few services and appropriate shelter beds available. They say it’s cruel and counterproductive to criminalize people for not having a place to live with affordable housing so scarce.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Coalition on Homelessness for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.