San Francisco seems to adopt a policy of terrorizing the homeless population into leaving. Limiting bathroom access across the city has certainly not had the desired effect. Still, rather than learn a lesson, it seems the city has merely expanded the public services it wants to keep homeless people away from WIFI. Due to unhoused people using it, the Harvey Milk Library now turns off the WIFI at night.
"We are here, and they feel we don't deserve to have Wi-Fi because we're homeless. It's spiteful, is what it is," said Hollywood, who didn't provide his last name and lives unhoused in the area surrounding San Francisco's Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library.
City and library officials said the change was made after neighbors in the area complained that the free Wi-Fi was part of what attracted unhoused people to the area and contributed to crime.'For those who are trapped in poverty and have many other circumstances that make daily existence difficult, it is even more challenging if you're not connected to the internet.'Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the library branch, pushed neighbors' concerns forward and requested that the library cut off Wi-Fi in the evenings, email records uncovered by Twitter user HDizz show.
Public internet access is a vital resource, even more so to unhoused people with few other options for accessing our increasingly online economy and society. Stripping it away to make someone go elsewhere is pretty inhumane. The SF Supervisor within whose district the library resides pushed the library to shut it down, but when asked about turning it back on, it seems he can not be bothered.
"My priority is to try to continue to reduce the number of encampments in my district and this city, and get the right kind of care to a lot of sick people," Mandelman said. "Twenty-four-hour Wi-Fi at Harvey Milk is not among my top priorities right now."