An employee of the nonprofit Urban Alchemy, which the City of San Francisco contracts with to manage some homeless services like the "safe sleeping village" tent encampments, was shot and injured Tuesday afternoon.
The incident happened at 3:50 p.m. near the south side of the Asian Art Museum, as the Chronicle reports. The victim was an ambassador/worker — Urban Alchemy calls them "Practitioners" — at the Fulton Safe Sleeping Village, where dozens of tents provide temporary shelter to 150 people each night.
The shooters were reportedly two men in hoodies — one employee at the site referred to them as "drug dealers" to a Chronicle reporter.
The injured man, who was not publicly identified, had a reportedly minor gunshot wound below one shoulder, and remained on the scene to speak to police before going to the hospital for treatment.
Witnesses said the shooting did not appear to be connected to anyone or any activity at the encampment site.
In a statement to the Chronicle, an Urban Alchemy spokesperson said, "We are thankful our Practitioner wasn’t seriously hurt, and we are thankful and grateful for the work that he and all of our Practitioners do every day. These streets are not safe. The community knows that, and we hear from the community all the time how much they respect that Urban Alchemy staff are trying to create positive transformation and safe spaces while often in potentially dangerous situations. For their support we are also thankful."
The Fulton Safe Sleeping Village, in a plaza between City Hall and UN Plaza, and between the Asian Art Museum and the Main Library, has resided on this site since May 2020. It is one of three such encampments that Urban Alchemy manages for the city, in what was originally meant to provide supplemental social-distancing shelter space for the homeless during the pandemic. Even though the city's shelter-in-place hotel program, which Urban Alchemy also managed, ended in mid-2021, the Safe Sleeping Village program lives on — at considerable expense to the city, as we learned last year.
Urban Alchemy has expanded its programs to Los Angeles, and opened a Safe Sleeping Village there in June 2021.
"Urban Alchemy also works in partnership with the local residents, addressing their concerns and sending outreach teams to respond to antisocial behavior," the nonprofit says on its website. "As neighbors begin to experience increased peace in their communities, we often see a more welcoming and generous spirit towards Safe Sleep Villages."
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images