Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

SF man raising money to buy tents for homeless people


Photo: Dan Brekke/KQED

A formerly homeless queer San Francisco man today (Thursday, January 28) launched a Gofundme campaign to buy tents for the city’s homeless people.

More tent encampments have been appearing in the city recently, especially as El Nino has brought more rain. But city crews have reportedly been clearing some of the tents. Many believe this is part of an effort to rid the streets of homeless people in time for the upcoming Super Bowl celebrations, which the city is expect to pay almost $5 million to host.

On the fundraising site, Shaun Osburn, 36, says, “It is our hope to crowd fund replacement tents for the individuals who have lost their homes due to the heartless actions of local government. With some 2-4 person tents costing anywhere from $30-$40, it is our hope that we can replace 100 of these¬†confiscated tents before the worst of the storms hit.”

Like others, Osburn faults Mayor Ed Lee and gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener for homeless people having their tents taken away just as more storms approach the city.

“[A] large push by Interim Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Scott Wiener has been made to¬†cleanse city streets of any and all signs of wealth inequality here in San Francisco,” Osburn says. “Poor people make for such terrible B-Roll, you know.”

Wiener recently wrote a letter to Police Chief Greg Suhr and other department heads seeking data on how many tents there are and how many shelter beds are available.

In his letter, Wiener said he wants to know about efforts to move people from tents into housing or shelters, and work to “enforce the bans on tents in our public spaces.”

“We need to know what is driving this specific homeless population, and what we can do to promptly transition tent occupants into housing/shelter and to eliminate these tents in a humane way,” he said.

As of this afternoon, more than $1,500 had been raised toward Osburn’s $4,000 goal. He says when $2,000 is reached, “we will reaccess if it makes sense to purchase additional tents and/or higher quality tents.”

Osburn says, “Previously homeless myself, I have been a strong advocate for poor and marginally housed individuals since my mid-20s. Having previously worked in social services and still having strong ties with the communities with which they serve, I will be distributing these tents directly to folks in need with the assistance of friends.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 28, 2016 @ 5:33 pm PST
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