SAN FRANCISCO—A San Francisco tech entrepreneur has written an open letter to San Francisco Mayor Edward M Lee and SFPD Police Chief Greg Suhr about the homeless crisis facing the city.
On Monday, February 15, Justin Keller posted the letter to his blog stating, “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.”
Keller’s post has been criticized by countless readers who remark on his lack of sensitivity toward the issues of poverty, addiction, and homelessness. Many publications have named Keller “tech bro”. One reader commented on Twitter, “Thanks Justin Keller for reminding us how entitled privileged people feel about other human beings. Always refreshing.” Another reader posted via social media: “Just when you thought rich tech guys could’ be bigger sociopaths, there is douche bag Justin Keller.”
Keller goes on to discuss several incidents that occurred over the holiday weekend involving his parents who were visiting him from Santa Barbara. Keller recounted multiple times homeless men approached them for money and harassed them with public indecency. Keller states “there is going to be a revolution” and calls for the city to tackle the problem head on. “People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger.”
Keller also addresses the aspect of gentrification in San Francisco, “I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city,” he says, “but reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”
Keller concludes by encouraging citizens to “start making progress,” and used the Super Bowl’s uprooting of San Francisco’s homeless population as an example that money and political pressure is capable of making change. “It is a very difficult and complex situation,” he stated. “Somehow during Suer Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence.”
His words have caused tension and enraged responses across social media channels. Many reactions have stemmed from Keller’s tone of entitlement surrounding the idea that he should not have to be exposed to the despair of homelessness in San Francisco.