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.”
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.
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.”
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.