Rainbow Grocery asks customers to reach out to city leaders as homeless problem grows more apparent

There is a growing chorus of voices who are demanding that San Francisco city leaders do something about the homeless problem including merchants, neighbors and former Mayor Willie Brown.

At Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, CFO Dennis Wagner says there appears to be a dramatic increase in the number of homeless living in tents near the store.

He says the city has to do something about keeping the area clean and safe.

"It affects everybody equally. Nobody can be proud to be part of San Francisco where you see this happening," said Wagner.

Rainbow Grocery has been at its Folsom and 13th street location adjacent to the Central Freeway for two decades; half of its 40 years in business, but now there’s been a noticeable change.

"We have a large tent city around us," said Wagner.

The store has flyers at every checkout stand asking customers to contact city leaders.

Wagner says he's already written them himself asking for short term and long term solutions.

"We need portable toilets with 24-hour accessibility. We need public garbage cans on every block with daily garbage pickup," said Wagner.

He says he will speak at a public meeting on Thursday held by city leaders.

"I miss my life. I wish I can rewind time but I can't," said Patrita Tripp.

She says she became homeless seven months ago after being evicted from her home.
Tripp says she's been assaulted at a shelter and feels safer living on street, something she says she never envisioned when she was working and had a home.

"I hate my life right now. Every day, I wish I was dead. Every day I wish that I would not wake up," said Tripp.
Rainbow Grocery says the homeless problem has not kept shoppers away. It says its concern is much broader that no one should have to live without basic needs.

"This is a society that should not be standing for this. We should be able to find solutions to this problem," said Wagner.

The mayor's staff on homelessness says it is focused on long term solutions such as housing and shelters and that crews already do daily street cleanings.

"I know there's frustration but the city is really working on expanding our shelter capacity for folks who are on the streets and in tents. And we opened the Pier 80 shelter. We can take up to 150 people, said Emily Cohen, deputy director for the city's Housing Opportunity, Partnership and Engagement. .

"It doesn't take a brain genius to figure this out...open more housing," said Tripp. "Every day it seems to get worse and worse. This is not healthy."
The mayor's staff on homeless says it has no plans to change existing policy. That it is always doing outreach to provide services to the homeless.

Rainbow's CFO says there has been enough talk and that it's now time for action.