There's a Wild Battle Happening on GoFundMe Right Now

Rival campaigns raising funds in support and opposition of a proposed SF homeless shelter
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2019 9:24 AM CDT
There's a Wild Battle Happening on GoFundMe Right Now
   (Getty Images)

It's not every day that the GoFundMe team donates to a GoFundMe campaign—and that's just one unusual element of a battle playing out on the platform. It started with a campaign called "Safe Embarcadero for All"—one that is seeking to raise $100,000 to put toward legal costs related to fighting a proposed homeless shelter in the Embarcadero, which the Guardian describes as one of San Francisco's "most desirable neighborhoods." It has brought in $62,000 so far and spurred the creation of a rival campaign, "SAFER Embarcadero for ALL," in support of the shelter. That's the campaign GoFundMe itself contributed $5,000 to; it's up to $34,000. More on the story:

  • As of this writing, there are 141 donors to the anti-shelter campaign, many of them anonymous. One unnamed person gave $10,000, reports the Guardian, which adds that other contributors include "hedge fund managers, executives, and authors."

  • The rival campaign describes itself as "fighting an effort by residents of one of the richest neighborhoods in San Francisco to block a homeless shelter on a parking lot." That lot is a 2.3-acre plot under the Bay Bridge. The proposed "Navigation Center" would hold 200 beds, in support of the city's stated goal to increase its number of beds by 1,000 by 2020, reports Gizmodo.
  • The CEO of GoFundMe explained to the Chronicle that his company's donation wasn't pulled from the $100,000-plus it donates a year to campaigns flagged by employees. As for what fueled this instance of giving, Rob Solomon says, "I don't think the tech industry is doing enough about the homeless issue. We wanted to do our small part, even though we're not located in San Francisco." (GoFundMe is based in Redwood City.)
  • The San Francisco Examiner reports the creator of the pro-shelter campaign, William Fitzgerald, made the campaign language nearly identical to the anti-campaign to "troll" it. He wrote in a tweet, "Hey haters, we're coming for you. You might have more money, but there's more of us." The latter part of his statement is true: His campaign has attracted 543 donors as of this writing.
  • Fitzgerald's campaign will benefit the Coalition on Homelessness; the other campaign's funds will go to Andrew Zacks, the real estate attorney who has been retained to fight the proposal. The Guardian shares a slice of his resume: In 2017 he defended an SF landlord who bumped his rent from $1,900 to $6,700.
  • What Mayor London Breed had to say on Twitter: "Homelessness is a crisis in our city and we need to act to get people off the streets and into housing. We're happy to demonstrate how these Nav Centers work and the benefits they've brought to other neighborhoods, but we can't afford unnecessary delays."
(Read more San Francisco stories.)

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