A truck sprays water over a section of sidewalk that had been occupied by homeless a few minutes before. Mark Richards for Al Jazeera America
But on the streets the efforts to clean up each morning go on. One DPW worker on a predawn shift, who spoke to Al Jazeera but declined to give his name over fear of job security, appeared pleased with his work. "We’re doing a good job. I got Market Street cleared out,” he said, while his team cleaned a dead-end alley with an encampment of homeless people, just blocks from Twitter headquarters.
The worker, who operates with a police escort, said he faced violence when his crew comes and occasionally confiscates belongings — tents, shopping carts. "I tell my family everything is OK," he said. "It’s a job." If he could, the DPW worker said, he would give the homeless jobs. He said he tries to do his work with respect for the homeless he encounters.
"I give people this respect. This is their home," he said.
Back in Mid-Market, where Victoria sat with her friends, a second cleanup crew came to hose down the streets just before 6 a.m. She and her friends were told by police and DPW workers to move. The workers confiscated a shopping cart and a few belongings.
One man who called himself Seven, 45, said police told him previously to relocate to 25th Street and Portero, a residential area, where police again ordered him to leave. Seven feels that multiple cleanups each night are part of the city’s attempt to try to get the homeless of Mid-Market to relocate permanently.
“There’s got to be a place for us. Just figure out where you want us to be,” he said.