Every day, more than two dozen people pass through a hackerspace in San Francisco’s Mission district called Noisebridge. At its broadest, “hackerspace” means a place where people can create and make things better. In practice, that often means computer programming. 

San Francisco  spends about $165 million each year on homeless services, according to a report requested by city Supervisor Mark Farrell. In an attempt to understand the cost effectiveness of those programs, Supervisor Farrell organized a series of eight hearings this spring, focused on homeless services in San Francisco. Farrell sat down with KALW's Ben Trefny to talk about what came out of those hearings.

Mary Rees

Last fall we reported on the impromptu community that grew up on a spit of land in the East Bay known as the Albany Bulb. Homeless people put up tents and wooden sheds all over a grassy former landfill with gorgeous views of the Bay.

Bulb campers said that even though they didn’t have conventional houses, they did have a group of people that took care of one another, shared meals, and hauled water together.

Steve Rhodes/SF Public Press

On any given night in the U.S. there are more than 600,000 people who are homeless.  In San Francisco, the government estimates there are about 6,400 people living on the street or in shelters.  The numbers have increased only slightly over the past few years, but with the lack of housing in the city, many are wondering what the county is doing to help. Bevan Dufty,  works with the mayor's office as  the Director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement  or HOPE.

A Homeless Person Tells His Story

Feb 4, 2014

While I was at a stop light, as is increasingly the case, there was a sad-looking person with a cardboard sign asking for money. I rolled down my window and as I gave him a buck, I asked him why he was wearing a Cal Berkeley hat.  On the Feb. 9, 2014 edition of Work with Marty Nemko, he'll tell his story.

Photo by Mary Rees.

On the west side of the city of Albany, there’s a peninsula jutting into San Francisco Bay. It’s beautiful there, right on the water, with hiking trails and beaches looking directly out toward the Golden Gate Bridge. On that piece of land, there’s a broad hilly mound covered in brush, grass, trees, scattered concrete slabs, and rebar that’s come to be known as the Albany Bulb.

Liz Pfeffer

California has the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the nation, and in San Francisco, it’s likely that more than 700 homeless vets will sleep on the street or in shelters this Veterans Day. 

According to Bevan Dufty, director of San Francisco’s Housing, Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE) program, housing homeless veterans is a high priority for the city. And the number of homeless veterans has decreased since last year, thanks in part to the opening of a permanent supportive housing facility called Veterans Commons.

Mary Willis

On Tuesday, San Francisco supervisors will consider legislation to close the city’s parks overnight. If passed, no one will be allowed in parks run by the city's recreation department between midnight and 5am.

The real value of a free haircut

Jul 23, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user Mr T. in DC

About 3,000 homeless people live in Oakland. Their challenges include finding places to stay, food to eat, and something else that many people take for granted: self-care. Simple things like a shower or a haircut. If you don’t have a home, where do you go to clean up?  Sometimes, a sink in a public bathroom is the best you can find.

Laura Flynn

Nearly every city in the US has a Tenderloin. Here in San Francisco, it’s a neighborhood home to a dozen social service agencies, low-rent residential hotels, or SROs, and thousands of low-income – and-no-income – residents. Premature deaths from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and complications from substance use and abuse mark the lives of many in the Tenderloin. It’s a part of the city known for open drug use. A place many people avoid and one where individual lives can be easily forgotten.

Imagine having nowhere to sleep, now, imagine that reality if you’re older, and maybe you suffer from illness or decreased mobility.

Bevan Dufty is Director of Housing, Opportunity, Partnership, and Engagement for the city of San Francisco. In his new role brainstorming solutions to the city’s stubborn homelessness problem, Dufty has come up with some pretty novel thoughts. We wanted to hear about some of the most innovative, so we invited him in for a segment we call “Radical Ideas.”

Flickr user Sterneck

Joseph Luna woke up this morning in a sleeping bag under the Harrison Street on-ramp to Highway 101. He sleeps here when he needs to get out of the rain.

Luna does not sleep past eight because he'll get rousted by police. His sleeping spot is near a five-way intersection, in back of a city tow lot. In his morning routine, he will get up, stack the cardboard and shove his stuff into a big black duffel bag, the only bag he owns.

Squatting with a cause

Aug 14, 2012

Just after midnight in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, two men smoke cigarettes outside the gate of an abandoned school. They’re waiting for the right moment to break in.

“We’re looking to gain entry to a long-vacant private commercial building that’s been vacant at least four years,” says Matt Crain. “Tonight what we’re going to do is just go in through the back. I’m going to pick a padlock that’s on a side gate of the place, and if that goes smoothly then we’ll proceed to the back and see if there’s an open door or an open window, and just proceed from there.”

Mariel Waloff

Finding an apartment in San Francisco these days is an uphill battle on any kind of budget. Craigslist ads and open houses can provoke hundreds of responses from people ready to compete for their share of the city’s scarce square footage, even at times willing to pay for months of rent in advance. For people without cash, things are a lot harder. Among those who find it most difficult are chronically homeless veterans.