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San Francisco tech worker: ‘I don’t want to see homeless riff-raff’

February 18, 2016

 

In only the latest cultural altercation between San Francisco’s tech workers and the city’s impoverished population, one tech worker has declared the homeless are “riff raff” whose “pain, struggle and despair” shouldn’t have to be endured by “wealthy” people commuting to work.

It’s a familiar story. A male entrepreneur (some might even call him a “tech bro”) – flush with the sense of self-worth and self-satisfaction that comes from living and working in a city and industry that treats him and his friends as the most important and intelligent human beings ever to grace a metropolitan area with their presence – takes a moment to think about homelessness. Not content to wrinkle his nose and move on with his day, he types those thoughts out. He publishes them on the internet.

And, there, with the click of a button, he enters the pantheon of infamous San Francisco tech bros.

Justin Keller, an entrepreneur, developer and the founder of startup Commando.io, joined those exalted ranks on 15 February when he published an open letter to San Francisco mayor Ed Lee and police chief Greg Suhr:

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town … Worst of all, it is unsafe… (more)

This now internationally infamous letter is garnering a lot of concern and criticism for the attitude it represents. Does Justin Keller represent the majority attitude of the nouveau riche techies moving into San Francisco, displacing the long-term residents who once welcomed innovators? Or is he an anomaly among them? How much more density must we take to provide housing for corporations in the peninsula?

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