Originally published in The Semaphore
Over the last nine months, you may have noticed more people in the neighborhood with yellow vests sweeping and collecting garbage off the streets. This group of busy workers is from North Beach Citizens’ recently expanded Street Beautification Program.
North Beach Citizens (NBC), a local non-profit that helps homeless and low-income individuals, has swept North Beach’s streets two days a week for the past 15 years. This is part of the organization’s Street Beautification Program, which helps its clients give back to the neighborhood while learning valuable work skills.
In October 2018, the non-profit expanded its Street Beautification Team to five days a week and increased its street cleaning team from 7 to 20 people a day. As a result, the organization is on track to quadruple its garbage collection capabilities from 2,819 bags collected in 2018 to more than 13,000 bags in 2019, with 6,761 bags of garbage collected at the end of June.
NBC was founded in 2001 by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Together with a group of residents and merchants, the non-profit utilizes the talents and support of the local community to help San Francisco’s homeless and low-income citizens find and stay in housing and get the support they need to rebuild their lives.
The Street Beautification Team gives NBC’s clients a way to give back to the neighborhood in a meaningful way while learning needed skills. The team members receive a small stipend at the end of their hour and a half shift.
One of NBC’s clients, Javier, was homeless for many years and living on Broadway Street after losing his janitorial job. NBC was able to help Javier find permanent housing and reconnect him with his mother before she passed away. Javier is an active member of the Street Beautification Team, works and supervises many of the other team members, and appreciates the structure and stability the program gives him.
Robert, another member of the team, believes that the program is a good way for him to develop a consistent daily routine, learn how to work for an employer, and show up on time. He relies on the program to buy food for himself and his dog to eat at home in his single room occupancy studio in the Tenderloin.
As part of its Street Beautification Program, NBC also led efforts to add five Bigbelly waste and recycling stations into the neighborhood earlier this year. The Bigbelly stations keep waste and recycling contained, eliminating visible waste, windblown litter, overflows, and critter access. North Beach Citizens partnered with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mayor Breed, Supervisor Peskin, North Beach Neighbors, North Beach Telegraph Hill Dwellers, North Beach Business Association, and the Department of Public Works.
NBC also partnered with the Surfrider Foundation and the Each Foundation to install and maintain 29 cigarette receptacles. Since August 2017, North Beach Citizens has collected over 120,00 cigarette butts that would have otherwise ended up on the streets.
To learn more about North Beach Citizens and donate, go to www.northbeachcitizens.org or call its Executive Direct, Kristie Fairchild, at 415-772-0918.
By Sharna Brockett — North Beach Citizens Board Member and North Beach Resident