San Francisco skyline

Elon Musk ran a Twitter poll (now deleted along with other tweets on the subject) asking his 4 million followers what they thought about turning the Twitter HQ in San Francisco into a shelter for the homeless? 90% of those who voted in the poll were in favour of the idea. But is this really a solution?

Traditionally, problems such as homelessness and poverty have been the concern of the State, and charities and religious organisations step in to support individuals who do not qualify for state support or for whom the meagre support on offer is insufficient. The commercial sector is in the business of making money, not helping people.

Full disclosure, Kanndoo is a commercial organisation - we are a Community Interest Company not a charity - set up with the intention of eliminating global poverty. Our profits are all put back into the community in programmes aimed at helping homeless people. As such we reject the distinctions laid out in the paragraph above and look to bring the skills of the private sector - innovation, expansion and swift reaction to changing events - to bear on the problem.

So should corporate mega-offices (underused in these times of post-Covid hybrid working) be turned wholly or partly into homeless shelters?

We believe a crucial step is missing in these kinds of grandiose gestures from billionaire benefactors. Where is the consultation with the people for whom this housing is intended?

Housing the homeless population of San Francisco is not simply a question of providing the number of beds for the number of people and bussing them out of the downtown camps and into office-adjacent accommodation where, as Musk’s fellow billionaire space tourist and Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos tweeted, “...makes it easy for employees who want to volunteer…”.

The whole stunt seems set up to ease the consciences of those who commute past the tented enclaves that have sprung up in cities across America.

Well, how about heading into those enclaves and asking the people about their ties to particular neighbourhoods, asking about their experiences of discrimination and police violence, finding out what their needs are and delivering responses accordingly?

If you would like to share your story of homelessness or poverty, get in touch. Contact Kanndoo on 01603 971590 or email enquiries@kanndoo.org