An unauthorized sweep of a homeless encampment in downtown San Francisco has cost event company Non Plus Ultra a big client.
The company knocked down eight people in the middle of the night on Sept. 10 and — while city officials remained largely silent — the action didn’t sit well with TechCrunch, which rents SVN West event space from Non Plus Ultra at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue South.
Non Plus Ultra has hired a freelance cleanup crew to clear the tents and belongings of eight people from the back of SVN West. In the middle of the night, people lost survival gear, family ashes, musical instruments and thousands of dollars in cash.
Many city departments have not issued statements in response to the incident, which the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights called “patently illegal.” The Mayor’s Office, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Healthy Streets Operation Center, San Francisco Police Department and City Attorney’s Office did not respond to repeated requests for comment. .
TechCrunch – which praised SVN West to Non Plus Ultra this week for its Disrupt conference – issued a statement criticizing the decision to seize people’s assets and saying it is cutting ties with Non Plus Ultra.
“This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are working to take immediate action,” TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino and TechCrunch chief operating officer Joey Hinson wrote in a blog post responding to the outcry over the ‘incident. “We will no longer be working with Non Plus Ultra at any of their locations in San Francisco for any TechCrunch events in the future.”
Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district encompasses SVN West and the street where the sweep took place, responded. He said that after reading the original article about the sweep in the San Francisco public press, he contacted Non Plus Ultra to discuss the matter. The events company operates out of several buildings in the Haney neighborhood, including the San Francisco Mint, which is leased to them by the city.
“I said, ‘Hey, this seems terrible and unacceptable to me. What happened here, and what are you going to do?’” he said.
Non Plus Ultra has yet to make a public statement about its role in the sweep, though TechCrunch writes that the event company will work with Community Housing Partnership and DISH, a supportive housing program, to “support the 12th Street homeless community”.
Haney also contacted Captain Edward Del Carlo, who runs the SFPD’s Southern Station.
“It’s quite shocking that the police were there and didn’t intervene,” he said, referring to the fact that police were called to the scene and took no action to prevent the theft. Two witnesses say the police even took part in the sweep, unpacking the tents and telling people to leave. “We should have a responsibility to prevent these types of conflicts on our streets,” Haney said. “If people’s things are being stolen,” he added, the police “should stop that, and they should also stop the violence. Looks like people got hurt in the process which is awful and unacceptable. »
District Attorney Chesa Boudin said he is also monitoring the situation.
“I am concerned by recent unauthorized sweeps of homeless people as well as reports that police were on the scene but failed to intervene to prevent the destruction of personal property,” he said. “Homeless people have the same rights to their property as anyone else – and they are particularly vulnerable to the seizure of their belongings. We must stop the dehumanization of our homeless neighbors.
Boudin called for lasting solutions to poverty, adding: “Sweeps like this are not only inhumane, but approach our housing crisis as if it were a mole’s game rather than looking for a systemic change.”
Haney, who lobbied for the opening of hotel rooms for homeless people at the start of the pandemic, said the safety of homeless encampments goes beyond this single incident. “I strongly believe that no one should live on our streets during a pandemic,” he said.
He also expressed concerns about copier scans. “The Homelessness Department and the Mayor’s office need to provide guidance to make it clear to people that they can’t do it.”