For Immediate Release
Jennifer Friedenbach, (415) 577-9779
Executive Director, Coalition on Homelessness
UC Hastings Chancellor’s Refusal to Sign Pledge Honoring Basic Human Rights of Unhoused Unmasks True Intentions Behind Tenderloin Lawsuit
27 Tenderloin community organizations calls for lawsuit to follow basic CDC guidelines to protect the safety and health of unhoused people
San Francisco — UC Hastings Chancellor David Faigman refused to sign a pledge honoring the basic human rights of unhoused San Franciscans following the lawsuit that Hastings filed along with six other Tenderloin plaintiffs.
The pledge, signed by 27 community organizations who serve Tenderloin residents, calls for a commitment from UC Hastings that their negotiated settlement with the City of San Francisco not violate the basic human rights of unhoused Tenderloin residents by displacing, clearing, or sweeping homeless people or encampments without providing individual housing units. These demands fall under guidelines already set by the CDC, the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, and the 9th circuit ruling on Martin v. Boise.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Hastings College of Law, Tenderloin Merchants and Property Association and four individuals is devoid of unhoused community members, who will not only be impacted by the outcomes of this litigation, but are the main subjects of the lawsuit. While the suit has been touted as community driven, the language that appears in the lawsuit itself raises serious alarm for unsheltered community members and advocates. The suit emphasizes the “cultural diversity” of small business owners and the “existential risk” to their future, but fails to mention the immediate danger and health risks for those who have no other option than to live unsheltered.
Statements from the lawsuit’s plaintiffs are rife with calls to remove people as though they were disposable and cast blame on those who are most in harm’s way. In one recent CNN interview, Faigman stated, “What we want is to clear the streets.”
“The cruel intent behind the lawsuit has become unequivocally clear following the Chancellor’s refusal to commit to protecting the basic human rights of homeless people,” said Keegan Medrano, COVID policy Director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “By not signing the pledge, UC Hastings is authorizing homeless sweeps despite their catastrophic impact on the health and safety of hundreds of our most vulnerable residents.”
Since the pandemic hit, the number of people living in tents has increased by 285%, bringing visibility to an often hidden issue. Issues that weighed heavily on the neighborhood before have become more crushing and more visible. Community groups and unhoused residents in the Tenderloin are calling for hotel rooms — instead of sweeping homeless people out of public space when they have nowhere to go.
“To not be signing onto this is another act of structural violence,” said Dr. Olivia Park of the Do No Harm Coalition. “UC Hastings is adding to the collective trauma of the people who are living on the streets, who are disproportionately black people and people of color. This kind of structural violence adds to the already huge economic and racial disparities that we see in our city and nation which in turn have long term health impacts. We are seeing this play out through the effects of the covid virus, which has had a devastating impact on Black and Latinx communities.”
UC Hastings Pledge Sign-Ons
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
St Anthony’s Foundation
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
Do no Harm
Faith in Action
Coalition On Homelessness
Developing Innovations in Supportive Housing
Homeless Emergency Service Provider Association
St. Frances Challenge
Eviction Defense Collaborative
Community Housing Partnership
Harm Reduction Treatment Center
Swords to Plowshares
Project Open Hand
Care through Touch
Episcopal Community Services
Homeless Prenatal Program
Dolores Street Community Services
Project Homeless Connect
Jennifer Friedenbach (she,her)
Coalition on Homelessness
280 Turk Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Please note: We moved to 280 Turk Street x Leavenworth, SF CA 94102
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
Francesca Pastine says
I don’t understand how any compassionate person would advocate for the way homeless have to cram onto sidewalks in lieu of the City taking constructive steps to take them off the street and into either hotel rooms, housing, or regulated areas that have adequate hygiene. Activism for the sake of activism makes no sense and perpetuates suffering. Society is governed by norms and rules for the betterment of everyone. It is in the best interest of the unhoused, the house, and society as a whole to make compromises that serve everyone’s interest. The derogatory term “sweep” is misleading. Getting people out of tents and into services is a good thing. Giving housed residents of the Tenderloin back their access to public sidewalks is a good thing.