The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Contractors Make Millions off Homeless Sweeps

May 20, 2024

Cities in California paid more than 100 million dollars to private companies, typically construction and hazardous waste removal companies, to take down homeless tent cities. This, according to a survey done by The Guardian newspaper and Type Investigations. The survey covered only 14 municipalities, so the actual amount is much higher.

City officials say they will provide housing to the homeless, but they usually don’t even know the whereabouts of most people they kick out of the homeless camps. Most of them just find another place to set up camp—until the next sweep.

As for the contractor companies, since their goal is to make a quick profit, they do the sweeps in a careless and haphazard manner. So, homeless people often lose essential belongings, including tents, furniture, bicycles and bicycle parts. One woman said that her car keys were gone, and that her daughter’s car was destroyed. Others lost belongings they used to earn money, such as tools and recyclable scrap metal.

So, while the sweeps cause added loss and trauma to a population that already is extremely vulnerable, contractors are making a killing just sweeping camps. The Singh Group, for example, a San Francisco Bay Area construction company, was paid 23 million dollars for a single contract. Tucker Construction got 10 million dollars over the last decade. Another construction company, Marinship, got 3.4 million dollars to sweep an encampment of about 200 people.

Capitalists constantly try to squeeze profit out of everything, including the poverty and suffering that the capitalist system itself creates. And elected “representatives of the people” are always ready to hand them public funds they oversee.