HOUSE THE BAY
We support the right to housing for all people and the right to shelter in place during the global pandemic.
WE CAN’T WAIT
Update from HOUSE THE BAY
San Francisco, CA – On May 1st two homeless women moved into an investment property that sat vacant for years and turned it into a home. But police forced Couper Orona and Jess Gonzalez to leave their new home just hours after they moved in, despite an outpouring of support from community members and some of their new neighbors.
Hundreds of people in vehicles welcomed the women while dozens chanted and played instruments. A neighbor from down the street walked over with two bottles of wine and a bouquet of flowers as music blasted through a community radio channel.
“This is one out of 4000 units we were promised when we voted yes on Prop C. Today we took one, we have 3999 to go,”
said Quiver Watts of House the Bay when interviewed at the protest.
“Mayor Breed, it is unconscionable for you to be leaving people on the streets. Not only during a pandemic, but anyday. Use your emergency powers to move people not just into hotels, but also into secure and permanent housing.”
The crowd was met with lines of police wearing face masks printed with the racist “Blue Lives Matter” flag. They prevented the media from accessing the block and violently arrested one protestor, later to release her with a citation.
“This is how Mayor London Breed’s San Francisco responds to homeless women trying to take shelter during a global pandemic. In a city with more vacant houses than homeless people, we need to move people into safe and secure housing. We can’t wait another day,”
said Ari Cowan, one of the community advocates in the house that day.
Couper Orona, one of the women forced to leave, stated:
“Whether you live in a house or you live in the streets, we’re all San Francisco residents. I want our city leaders to pay attention. We’re people. We’re human. We need homes. We need a safe and stable place to be so we can feel like we belong again in our city. I love my city and I want my city to be the best. And I want my city to thrive. But you gotta have heart and guts. And that’s what we need our mayor to do. London Breed, get some guts, get your sh*t together.”
Mayor Breed has refused to implement Prop C, and she has refused repeated calls from our community to use her emergency powers to open vacant houses and hotel rooms to our unhoused neighbors. We can’t wait another day.
Two Homeless Women Move into Vacant Property
San Francisco, CA – On May 1, two unhoused women and community advocates moved into an investment property that has sat vacant for years in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. They are demanding the right to housing for all people and the right to shelter in place during the global pandemic.
There are currently more empty houses than homeless people in San Francisco. House the Bay is demanding that Mayor London Breed use her emergency powers to open all these vacant units to those currently trying to stay safe from the virus in congregate shelters, crowded SROs, or in tents on the street.
Taking inspiration from #Moms4Housing, House the Bay is directly meeting the real needs of our unhoused neighbors and demanding bolder initiatives from elected officials. While the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance requiring Mayor Breed to open 8,000 hotel rooms to homeless people, she refuses to comply with the will of her constituents, denying basic rights to our unhoused neighbors and putting all San Franciscans at risk.
“The only difference between us and someone who is housed is they have a roof over their head we don’t, but we are all San Francisco residents! We should be treated as such,”
says Couper Orona, a disabled firefighter and street medic who has moved into the house.
“I love my city and I am there for my community, but the way our leaders have ignored our pleas for support is heartbreaking. We need permanent housing, and we need it now. We can’t wait another day.”
Who is Couper Orona? 1 minute trailer from upcoming short doc, “Couper Was Here” about her life and homeless advocacy.
In 2018 San Francisco voters passed “Our City Our Home”, a ballot initiative that promised to open 4,000 units for homeless San Franciscans. Despite the overwhelming support from voters, Mayor Breed has refused to implement the initiative, instead leaving the taxes on the city’s wealthiest corporations in a bank account, untouched.
“It’s outrageous that while houses sit empty, we’re unable to safely shelter in place,”
says Jess Gonzalez, the other woman creating a home in this vacant house.
San Francisco has seen a surge in deaths among homeless people this spring, fatalities that officials are not directly attributing to coronavirus but which advocates say is a result of the shelter-in-place order that forced people on to the streets. Read the entire...
Listen to the full interview on KALW On this edition of Your Call, we’ll get an update on how San Francisco is handling its unhoused population during #COVID19. Last week, advocates staged a protest outside of Mayor London Breed’s house to demand more hotel rooms for...