It’s never easy living on the streets, of course. But in San Francisco, which has remade itself since the end of the Great Recession into the nation’s tech haven, a bedroom community for Silicon Valley workers, the headquarters of some of the biggest tech companies—Uber, Airbnb, Twitter—and the home, or one of the homes, of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, it is a waking nightmare. As the divide between the haves and the have-nots has become a chasm, being poor has become a leprosy.
Working-class and middle-class renters hold on for dear life to apartments that well-heeled techies are willing to pay thousands of dollars a month to live in—a homely studio in the Mission can command $2,500 a month, no utilities (or basic appliances, sometimes) included. Meanwhile, people who have lived on modest wages or government checks for years, decades even, are being evicted or displaced.