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Indybay Feature

Homes Not Jails Housing Takeover in San Francisco

by Michael Steinberg (blackrainpress [at]
Squatter's group Homes Not Jails occupied a long empty apartment building in San Francisco owned by Kaiser Permanente.
Homes Not Jails took over a large long vacant apartment building at the corner of Divisadero and O'Farrell, off Geary, in San Francisco today.

The building is owned by Kaiser Permanente, the HMO empire whose colossal hospital buildings dominate the medical landscape across California.

When I got home a while ago and told my housemate about the action and the location of the building, he recognized it. "They kicked a bunch of families out," he said, referring to Kaiser, "and it's been empty ever since."

On the front of the building a large banner proclaimed, "Kaiser Thrives, People Die." The cruel irony of a gigantic organization supposedly in the healing business intentionally keeping people from living in a perfectly good, and large, building, and for a long time, became perfectly clear though today's occupation.

"The fact that anyone is homeless in a city with so many vacancies is a crime," one supporter in front of the building called out. "This is a situation we will resolve."

By this time is was dusk, and a half moon was shining down on us on the street. Occupiers showed themselves periodically, as we gathered in front of doors stamped with the stock capitalist slogan "Private Property No Trespassing."

At one point occupiers lowered a bucket and a supporter removed it contents. This incensed the cops who were guarding the abandoned building. A few marched over and forbid further such actions. "They're trespassers and we aren't going to let you give them food," one of SF's finest shouted.

A while later I heard a legal observer tell a supporter that an owner, or agent thereof, had signed a trespassing complaint, giving the police legal grounds to enter the building. And that the cops had done so.

Supporters started chanting "No More Vacancies, Occupy Everything!" and "Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails!"

By this time it was dark, and looked even darker inside the building. The cops may have entered it, but finding anyone inside the big chronically empty space would be quite another matter.

We all waited quite a while but by 8:30, about when I left, no one had emerged from the building.

As I was walking away, I heard a child of about two among the remaining supporters singing out, "Homes Not Bombies!"

Today's action started with a rally in the Panhandle, followed by a march to Haight Street, then down Haight to Divisadero, and from there to the occupation site.

Homes Not Jails has been using non-violent direct action to take over empty buildings in San Francisco and beyond since 1992. For more info go to

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by someone who lives nearby
The fact that these vagrants are even allowed to occupy this, or any other, privately owned building is a shame. Homelessness is not the result of not enough housing being made available. I see "for rent" & "for sale" signs all over the city. Homelessness is a direct result of general laziness & weak composition resulting in drug addiction & other character flaws. The city.. And by the city I mean the citizens of san francisco... Owe these people nothing. If you can't afford to live here, go somewhere else. Or, get off your ass & get a minimum wage job.
by someone else
What you just said, or something else?

Because your whole comment was pretty funny. I got a good chuckle out of it. Homelessness being the result of laziness and drug addiction? Good one. Classic delivery.
by The red son
The first comment is a joke because you can't rent in SF on minimum wage! 10 bucks an hour x 160 hours a month - payroll taxes= 1120 a month. Now try to find an apartment outside of the tenderloin for under a thousand, now try paying all your bills and feeding yourself with the remaining money.

The number of vacant properties keeps property values and rental costs high.

The first comment speak to nothing but the ignorance of the author.
by mark g
I will absolutely stick to my argument that homelessness is a result of weak composition and, yes, laziness. All you need to do is spend some time on haight street or in berkeley and see the young bums who choose to live that life. Some of the trust frund babies from marin who want to live the hippie lifestyle. That's 1 category. Another are the drug addicts... i could care less about them You want to get yourself involved in that... be my guest. just don't expect a bail out when you can't hold a job. As for the disabled and mentally incompetent... while i feel sorry for them, i don't believe they make up a large percentage of the homeless population. Most of these folks... hell... the ones i walked by this morning as i passed the divisadero building... they are absoluteely competent. i especially liked the mother sitting on the steps of the building with her young daughter. Get off your ass and go get a job.

As for being able to afford to live in the city.... I work damn hard to be able to live here and support my family. If you don't want to or cant', then maybe SF is not for you. There is a whole world out there where people can afford to live on less. Living here is not a right, it's a privilage. Same with New York, London, Sydney or any other major metropolitan area. It;s all about personal choices.

So the low lifes and the bums can demonstrate all they want. Kaiser owns the building and can do with it whatever they want.
by Post it as a comment here.
Thank you.
by heartcompass
the first comment and that same idiots additional commentary is classic individualist, isolated, lonely, anti-social, anti-community, rat race, capitalist mentality that has infected most of the privileged world. He notes that living in SF is a privilege but completely misses the fact that with increased privilege there is a direct correlation to increased responsibility -- and that there is a direct correlation of privilege to oppression.

Unfuck your mind and free your miserable spirit.
by The red son
You are misinformed. People with mental illness and veterans are disproportionately represented in homeless populations. If you don't think a large portion of SF homeless people are mentally ill, then you obviously have never tried relating or engaging in human interaction with them. Never assume you know somebody's life story based on downturned glances as you shuffle past them. Many homeless youth have run away from abusive situations or are LBTQ and came to San Francisco as a sanctuary from their homophobic hometowns.
by juliana
People all over the world have the right to housing. The right to a safe place to sleep is a human right, it is NOT a privelage. People in the United States have been terribly brainwashed, even some of them who read Indymedia, to think that housing is a privelage.

What are the roots of homelessness in the U.S.? Making sure that wages have not kept up w/ inflation and are worth less every year, ending any kind of people's programs, allowing businesses to fire when they wanrt to, ENDING WELFARE (you can thank the Democrats), making food unaffordable, and yes, closing services for the mentally ill.

Not everyone who is homeless is mentally ill, but homelessness will make you crazy.

How to be an intelligent American instead of an ingnorant American? Go to the root of the issue. Go back as far as you can and read about how things started and why they are the way they are.

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