Irma Parada has had homeless neighbors before. In December, there was one person living on the pavement near her home on 18th Street. Then the tents appeared. By the beginning of this month, there were five.
The cause: The city's removal of Tent City, the homeless encampment underneath the US-101 freeway overpass. While some of the homeless formerly living in Camp Lee have accepted shelter placement at Pier 80, others relocated into the neighborhood. Now, instead of campers in front of Rainbow Grocery and other businesses, they are in front of homes.
“I am extremely sensitive to the homeless and I support any cause to help them,” Parada says. “However, it is not acceptable to have these encampments in a neighborhood, without a plan.”
Other than the new shelter at Pier 80, which Mayor Ed Lee and his homeless czar, Sam Dodge, both defended as an adequate response, it appears the city had no plan for Tent City's denizens should they not want to move out to the end of Cesar Chavez Street.
That, says Supervisor David Campos, who represents the area, was one of the reasons he called for an official “declaration of emergency” on the homeless issue. While Lee has said his plan was substantive, Parada's new neighbors are proof positive Tent City was demolished without a new destination for all of its denizens.
“It doesn't really solve anything,” Campos says. “It just moves the problem around.”