Video shows city employees disposing of homeless’ belongings

The Associated Press
Saturday August 18, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A video obtained by a Bay Area television station shows Department of Public Works employees dumping shopping carts full of the personal belongings of homeless people into the back of a garbage truck. 

The tape chronicled an emotional outburst by one homeless man, who watched as his belongings were dumped. 

The video was taken early Wednesday morning in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neigborhood near Cesar Chavez and Bayshore, said Paul Boden, director of San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness. Boden apparently had some strong feelings about the issue. 

“This is the standard operating procedure for how the city and county of San Francisco treats homeless people, Boden told KTVU-TV Thursday. 

Still, Boden said the city has a right to confiscate and return shopping carts to the businesses they originally belonged to, though he added that is not happening. 

“This is strictly a harrassment compaign to let homeless people know that they are despised, unwanted and should get the hell out of town,” Boden said. 

City workers are told to gather abandoned property, said George Smith, director of the mayor’s Office on Homelessness. 

“Our standing operating procedure is to keep the streets clean,” he said, adding that abandoned property is bagged and stored for 90 days, during which owners can pick up their belongings.