Photo Credit: flightlog/Flickr

Wealthy San Francisco Residents Raise $85,000 to Block Homeless Shelter

San Francisco’s booming tech economy has been a bittersweet development, bringing in big money but simultaneously driving many locals out onto the streets, unable to keep up with skyrocketing housing costs. It’s a trend that’s causing a swift rise in homelessness in many communities in the United States, particularly on the West Coast. Fortunately, San Francisco Mayor London Breed is taking the crisis seriously.

His most recently backed homeless initiative aims to create a 200-bed shelter located under the Bay Bridge. However, given the close proximity to South Beach — an area characterized by million dollar homes and wealthy residents — some locals are rushing to block the shelter’s creation.

A new crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, titled Safe Embarcadero for All, aims to raise funds to back a legal effort to stop the construction of the Navigation Center homeless shelter. Created by Andrew Zacks, a local real estate lawyer, the campaign page argues that the shelter places “expediency over safety” and expresses concern over the possibility of drawing drug users and sex offenders to the area.

Curiously, the money raised by the GoFundMe campaign will be used by Zacks himself to initiate a legal protest against the city.

This is a classic case of NIMBY, or the “Not in My Back Yard” phenomenon, in which resistance public projects, like homeless shelters, emerges over concerns about how it will affect a given neighborhood — while having little or no concern about finding alternative solutions or how such projects would affect different neighborhoods.

Unfortunately for Zacks and his campaign backers, there is little evidence that homeless shelters bring crime into an area or that they lower property values. In fact, one study actually found that not only did crime rates remain unchanged, property values in areas with homeless shelters rose.

Not everyone in San Francisco is indifferent to the struggles of its homeless citizens, however. In response to Zacks’ campaign, another has sprung up on GoFundMe, calling itself Safer Embarcadero for All, is raising money to support the organization behind the South Beach shelter and its potential costs in a potential future legal battle, Coalition on Homelessness. The campaign’s author, William Fitzgerald, urges donors to contribute to demonstrate that the homeless in San Francisco “deserve safe and human shelter.”

As of writing, Fitzgerald’s campaign has raised nearly twice as much as Zacks’ — an incredible $152,000.

Homeless is not a crime. These individuals are members of their community and members of their community have a duty to help their peers — if the wealthy residents of South Beach truly wanted to reduce homelessness in San Francisco, they would put their money toward funding groups like Coalition on Homelessness rather than toward paying an opportunistic lawyer to pursue frivolous legal action.

This article was originally published on on April 3, 2019.

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