Merlin street parking lot in San Francisco cleared
Around 60 homeless people living in the Merlin Street abandoned public parking lot, under an I-80 overpass, were evicted Monday morning.
Approximately twenty California Highway Patrol officers and Caltrans staff arrived on the site to clear up everything left after residents, who had been living in their cars or tents for years, struggled to take their personal belongings somewhere else, with many just moving to other parts of the city as homeless advocates reiterated there is not enough resources for all.
The San Francisco community organisation , Coalition on Homelessness, has been voicing their concerns via social media since the California Highway Patrol informed last week to the city and local advocates that residents on Merlin Street were to be evicted, from what is considered one of the major camps in San Francisco.
According to them, people living in the Caltrans-owned parking lot were not parking illegally as many have been paying monthly rent for a parking space before it went out of business during the pandemic and Caltrans took over.
They highlighted the case of a resident named Greg, an elderly man who had been living in his van and paying rent for the last 5 years to park and like many others that considered Merlin Street their home, had nowhere to go.
The case is a bit tricky as San Francisco pause on evictions during the pandemic applies to residential spaces and there is really no law written to deal with situations like this.
Eviction Defense Collaborative, the organisation that provides tenant legal services, shelter client advocacy, and rental assistance to San Francisco residents, said previous to the eviction ;
“The situations of many of the people who have been residing for a substantial period of time at the property on Merlin St. raise strong evidence of a legal tenancy, and any doubts must be resolved in favor of the residents’ due process rights”; Eviction Defense Collaborative
SF District 6 Supervisor, Matt Haney, who represents the area where the Merlin-Street encampment is situated , said via twitter;
The number of people on the streets in crisis is brutal & unacceptable. People laying on the sidewalk, w/o care or attention. This is a shameful failure in such a wealthy city. Our street response systems must be enhanced, with more placements, & urgent immediate 24/7 responses.
At the height of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested to keep people wherever they were if no shelter was available. California governor, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched project Roomkey, a program created to move the most vulnerable off the streets, and into a hotel rooms to shelter alone. He also ordered officials not to sweep many tents that sprung up along highways.The moratorium is now over, and there has been an escalation of complaints about the homeless encampments all over California asking for stricter laws governing where homeless residents can sleep.