Billionaire tech investors support divisive plan to ban San Francisco’s homeless camps
The debate over what to do about the San Francisco’s homeless population has been building for awhile among the many startups and residents here. But now tech billionaires Ron Conway, Michael Moritz and well-to-do hedge fund manager William Oberndorf have each thrown about $50,000 behind a measure to rid San Francisco of its homeless tent cities.
Other notable investors, including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s husband and venture capitalist Zach Bogue, have also donated. Bogue reportedly gave about $2,500 to support it.
Known as Proposition Q, the proposal would authorize city officials to forcibly remove the tents and other structures from sidewalks after giving its residents 24-hour written notice. The measure also says officials can only take these measures after first offering access to a shelter. However, opponents of Prop Q say this would only make life harder for the city’s homeless.
And it may be a measure made in vain. As of the beginning of August, the city had 1,203 shelter beds, with 875 people on the waitlist.
“With Proposition Q, we’re just taking away someone’s tent and making them sleep on the cold concrete,” Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness told the Guardian. “They’re not going to disappear.”
Many opposing the proposition also take issue with monied tech investor’s involvement. These small sums are chump change to the city’s billionaires — Moritz is worth just over $3 billion — but they make up the majority of the $270,000 treasure chest in favor of Prop Q so far.
Conway declined to comment but Bogue told TechCrunch he felt some people were “twisting this issue around in a perverse way.” Bogue, who served on the board of the Bay Area homeless outreach organization the Tipping Point for the last several years, continued explaining why he supported the proposition.
“I supported Q because it would provide more resources to help get the homeless off the street and into shelters,” he said. “The encampments are unsafe and inhumane, and frankly, I hope that this is not our solution to homelessness in the city.”
Speaking on behalf of Moritz, Nathan Ballard, spokesman for the campaign to support Proposition Q said it was, “inhumane to allow people to live on the street when shelter is available. Mr. Mortiz and Mr. Conway have joined San Franciscans from all walks of life who support Prop Q because they urgently want to see an end to the human suffering on our streets.”