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Uber Ejected Homeless from San Francisco Encampment

December 24, 2016, 7:13 PM UTC
Uber launches self-driving pilot in San Francisco with Volvo Cars
Uber launches self-driving pilot in San Francisco with Volvo Cars
Courtesy of Volvo Cars

Cnet reports that, in November, a private security firm at an Uber facility dismantled a homeless settlement, ejecting about 30 residents. The encampment, known as Lower Perry, had existed for years behind a warehouse that Uber used to house a fleet of self-driving cars.

Witnesses and former residents interviewed by Cnet indicated that the removal of the encampment was done lawfully and courteously by Uber’s security firm, Regional Protection Agency. Residents were given at least a week’s notice to vacate, given food and taken, along with their possessions, to wherever they wanted to go.

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The problem, of course, is that many didn’t have any better alternative—in large part thanks to players like Uber itself. The booming tech economy has steadily inflated rents and property values in San Francisco, contributing to a highly visible homeless population of around 7,000, and lengthy waitlists for beds in homeless shelters.

Some players in the tech community have advocated for harsh treatment of the homeless amid a broader environment of class tension in the city. In October, Sequoia Capital Chairman Michael Moritz and Marissa Mayer’s husband, Zachary Bogue were among those advocating for a measure that would help speed the removal of homeless camps there.

For more on Uber’s battles with regulation, watch our video.

There’s an additional layer of sad irony here—as of this week, Uber is no longer storing vehicles at the warehouse in question. Uber suspended tests of its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco on Wednesday, following a pointed battle with state regulators, and moved the cars to Arizona.