This Su­per Bowl will have it all: The hype, the half­time show, the fans. But not the army of home­less peo­ple

The city keeps a prob­lem away from Su­per Bowl cam­eras “If you don’t have money, then you have to go and hide some­where”

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS - −Ali­son Vek­shin, with Jeran Wit­ten­stein

When vis­i­tors de­scend on San Fran­cisco to revel in Su­per Bowl 50 fes­tiv­i­ties, they’ll be able to see a per­for­mance by Ali­cia Keys, a fire­works dis­play, and works by lo­cal artists. What they won’t see, the or­ga­niz­ers hope,

are many of the peo­ple who typ­i­cally sleep out­side along the Em­bar­cadero at the foot of Mar­ket Street, where the city has set aside space for Su­per Bowl City, a free, fam­ily-friendly fan vil­lage. Open­ing on Jan. 30, it will fea­ture stages where en­ter­tain­ers will ap­pear, a Bud Light bar, and a wa­ter­front wine-tast­ing lounge.

The week­long event across from the city’s Ferry Build­ing will be among the main im­ages of San Fran­cisco broad­cast around the coun­try by CBS,

CNN, and the NFL Net­work, which will have an­chors live at the site. (The Su­per Bowl it­self takes place on Feb. 7 at Levi’s Sta­dium in Santa Clara, about 40 miles south.) Start­ing on Jan. 30, ac­cess to the fan site will be con­trolled through four air­port-style se­cu­rity check­points.

San Fran­cisco has dis­patched so­cial work­ers to en­cour­age reg­u­lars in the area to visit shel­ters and take ad­van­tage of other ser­vices. “We will be work­ing more than usual, and there will be more street teams go­ing out to as­sist peo­ple who don’t have a place to stay so that they can be safely cared for,” David Perry, the Su­per Bowl host com­mit­tee’s head of pub­lic en­gage­ment, said at a com­mu­nity meet­ing on Jan. 14. “San Fran­cisco is also com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure that the ex­pe­ri­ence for the Su­per Bowl is safe, se­cure, and san­i­tary.” The com­mit­tee is do­nat­ing $13 mil­lion to an­tipoverty char­i­ties.

Homelessne­ss in San Fran­cisco is a per­sis­tent prob­lem that’s wors­ened as the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try’s growth has drawn well-paid work­ers, in­flat­ing hous­ing costs. With the eighth­high­est rate of homelessne­ss in the U.S., the city, once a haven for free spir­its, has seen an ex­plo­sion in com­plaints about en­camp­ments and re­quests to San Fran­cisco Pub­lic Works to clean up fe­ces, urine, and shop­ping carts. “When a lot of cam­eras are go­ing to be pointed on the city, they want to have an im­age of the city that does not in­clude poverty,” says Jen­nifer Frieden­bach, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Coali­tion on Homelessne­ss in San Fran­cisco.

The city is spend­ing $5 mil­lion on po­lice over­time, trans­porta­tion, and other costs as­so­ci­ated with host­ing the Su­per Bowl fes­ti­val. Jane Kim, a mem­ber of the Board of Su­per­vi­sors, who op­poses spend­ing city funds for a cor­po­rate event, says she was told by the mayor’s of­fice that the area around the fan vil­lage was be­ing tar­geted for home­less out­reach. “We should be mak­ing sure that we’re de­liv­er­ing ser­vices through­out the city, not just be­cause of a spe­cial event,” she says.

Chris­tine Falvey, a spokes­woman for Mayor Ed Lee, says the ef­fort to di­rect peo­ple to shel­ters, where the city has added 1,100 beds, is be­cause of the weather, not the Su­per Bowl. “It’s as­so­ci­ated with cold, wet win­ter,” she says. “It is dan­ger­ous and un­healthy to live on our streets.” Rachael Ka­gan, a spokes­woman for the city’s health depart­ment, says her team has gone out of its way to ex­plain the changes

the fes­ti­val will bring. “The home­less out­reach team staff in­formed home­less peo­ple in that area that the event will be com­ing there, that there will be con­struc­tion, road clo­sures, and crowds,” she says. “It will be very dif­fer­ent than usual for the next few weeks, and the team made sure that the peo­ple who live there are aware of that.”

One home­less man stand­ing near a bocce court that’s part of the vil­lage says he likes to come to the wa­ter­front site for some sun but was al­ready plan­ning to go else­where once the event be­gins. “It’s for the peo­ple with money,” he says, de­clin­ing to give his name. “If you don’t have money, then you have to go and hide some­where, or the po­lice will take you away.”

The bot­tom line San Fran­cisco is ask­ing home­less res­i­dents along the Em­bar­cadero to leave a Su­per Bowl fes­ti­val site.

The Em­bar­cadero The site of the fu­ture Su­per Bowl fan vil­lage, on Jan. 21

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