Homeless encampment in SF's Potrero Hill swept by DPW crew, problem persists

Today San Bruno Avenue in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill is nearly spotless, a far cry from a week ago when dozens of tents called it home.

This past Sunday the city sent in its Department of Public Works (DPW) crews to reclaim the street.  Everything was taken down moved or tossed away.

Frustrated business owners say the removal effort may have been a bust. 

“I am still upset, but pleased there has been a response,” said Noeme Chahenian. Chahenian owns a family jewelry business that sits on the edge of the encampment.  She has witnessed everything from drug use to violence through her back window. She appreciates the city's efforts, but says the big problem still remains.

“What happened to all those tents?  They didn’t go anywhere.  They just moved and spilled over into the neighboring streets.  So what we have now is actually even worse.”

A short block away on Alameda Street, new garbage and refuse piles have appeared including countless used needles.  Just a few feet away 45-year-old Kenny Smith is resetting his tent.  He was part of that mass cleansing on Sunday and only moved one street over.

“They are playing musical chairs.  It’s really stressful. It’s really inconvenient and stressful for people out here that don’t have a home. For those that do have a home they’re blessed,” said Smith who is homeless.

San Francisco’s Homeless Outreach Team has met with business owners and encouraged them to protect their businesses, which is why the owners paid over $7,000 for 60 barricades and that’s not all.

“We should also put up lights, put up extra cameras and extra security, put planters out.  That’s all great, but we’ve done that already.  But, that’s city property!  I don’t agree. I think the city should being doing that,” said Noeme Chahenian.

Leslie Dean is the manager of the Daltile Design Center on Utah Street.  She is spearheading a group of 80 business owners and working with the SF Homeless Outreach Team to not only clean the neighborhood, but get the homeless under a warm roof.

“Things on this street are better now, but we still have a long way to go.  There is a plan in progress through a resolution to break apart the encampment and get the homeless shelter and service they need.   That should happen at the end of April,” said Dean.  

If you are concerned about a homeless person in San Francisco contact the Homeless Outreach Team or call 311 to make a report.