SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Cameras follow Yusuf, a San Francisco street performer who lives on the streets in the city’s Mission District.
“He used to be a student here in San Francisco and then he appeared just like this,” says Jorge Garcia in an interview with community blog Ripple.
Yusuf’s belongings are stored in stacks of cardboard boxes on the sidewalk outside of Garcia’s shop, La Guadalupana Joyeria on Mission. He protects his possessions under a blue tarp and keeps his area tidy by sweeping the sidewalks.
Yusuf started dancing to hip hop music and performing on the street in 2006. His stage is a small section of sidewalk where he spins his body and waves his arms to music he blasts from his portable PA system.
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“Everybody says it’s dancing, I just call it boogie,” he says. I don’t dance, I boogie.”
He says that dancing has helped him get by as passerbys drop change into his 1-gallon bucket. He credits a friend who showed him that performing was the safest way to earn lunch money.
“He didn’t have to rob nobody, kill nobody, sell drugs, he didn’t have to anything that was negative,” he says.
Garcia, who is also a priest, says that Yusuf’s situation is the result of plutocracy in the city, which is not only displacing families but is displacing “culture, art, expressions, our dreams, right?”
Yusuf doesn’t believe the city’s politicians are doing enough to solve San Francisco’s homelessness. He argues that despite the millions of dollars spent on alleviating the problem, he sees the same people pushing their belongings in carts and living on the streets.
“I think it’s bullshit, where are these people’s homes?,” he asks. “Why haven’t they got any of these people off the street?”
San Francisco is spending about a quarter of a billion dollars on services for the displaced, according to an SFGate report. But the bigger problem is not lack of funding. The city has been struggling on tracking how the money is being spent and whether efforts are generating results.
The SF Homeless Project is a joint effort of about 70 media organizations, including this station, dedicated to covering the causes and solutions to homelessness in San Francisco.