San Francisco has been working hard to improve the city for the arrival of world leaders with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which includes moving the homeless from the area.
APEC is made up of 21 member economies, including the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and Canada.
One of the highlights this year is the much-anticipated meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which many hope will improve relations between the two countries.
The executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach, stated that the organization has been hearing about more homeless encampment sweeps before the international conference.
“They want to clean up the city’s image and use this conference as a way to draw back tourism,” Friedenbach said. “These efforts never work because folks don’t have disappearing power. People are out there because there’s not enough housing. There’s not enough shelter.”
In 2022, 7,754 people experienced homelessness in San Francisco, with at least 43% or 3,357 of them staying in shelters, according to city data.
SoMa resident and owner of Deli Board, Adam Mesnick, reported seeing temporary housing pop up in hotels for some of the homeless over the past week. The deli owner stated that the city is good at creating an “illusion” and called the temporary rehoming solution a “Band-Aid.”
The city has been struggling to recover from the aftermath left by the COVID-19 pandemic, when San Francisco struggled with office and business closures partly due to government-mandated shutdowns that affected a booming downtown filled with retailers, restaurants and bars.
Michael Hudson, who has been living near Market Street for the past few months, stated that he just found out about the APEC conference.
“This is the third time they kicked us out. And this time they wouldn’t let us put our tents back up,” said Hudson.
He reported losing most of his belongings the last time he was forced to move.
“They are supposed to keep it for us, and it said it on the paper they gave us. But when I asked about it, no one could find any of my stuff. All they are doing is harassing us more often and coming out, arresting people.”
The summit is expected to run from November 12 to November 17.