San Francisco, homeless

San Francisco Clears Out Homeless Population Ahead Of APEC Summit

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit, San Francisco is clearing its streets of the homeless.

As many cities do when hosting world leaders, San Francisco is preparing by sanitizing the city’s homeless population. As Yahoo reported, ahead of President Joe Biden’s planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit, which began on Nov. 11 and runs until Nov. 17, the city is undertaking a massive beautification effort. 

The summit is expected to draw thousands of visitors and protestors to San Francisco as American and Chinese tensions and areas of cooperation are explored. However, despite the attempts at eradicating the presence of the city’s sizeable homeless population, experts like Jennifer Friedenbach, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Homelessness, say that does more harm than good.

Friedenbach told Yahoo, “They want to clean up the city’s image and use this conference as a way to draw back tourism. These efforts never work because folks don’t have disappearing power. People are out there because there’s not enough housing. There’s not enough shelter.”

According to a 2022 report from Applied Survey Research, the homeless population in San Francisco is composed mostly of Black people, they make up 60% of the homeless population despite being just 7% of its total population. In December 2022, a federal judge blocked the city from clearing homeless encampments unless there was a offer of shelter, albeit temporarily. Friedenbach’s organization brought a lawsuit against the city earlier in 2022 alleging that they were running the homeless population out of San Francisco with “the express purpose of removing visible signs of homelessness from San Francisco’s street.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom echoed the sentiment that the homeless need to be cleared off the street, saying that everything has to “get dialed up” and compared the efforts to what people do before company comes over to visit. Business owners in San Francisco are hoping to cash in on the expected $53 million that will be generated by the APEC summit, as the San Francisco Travel Association estimates. 

The city’s homeless population, like Christie Palominos, are now in the position of deciding what they want to keep before they are moved into permanent housing. Palominos told Yahoo, “They’re clearing out the homeless people because they don’t want them to see this,” Palominos also described her feelings about those who think they are better than the city’s homeless population.

Palominos continued, “Usually I stay as long as I can, but it’s kind of hard because there are certain people who pick on you. They think they’re better than you.” Palominos added, “Walk a day in my shoes. I guarantee that some of these rich people who walk around in these high-rises wouldn’t survive.”

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