He used to be homeless, now he's documenting homelessness in San Francisco

Lee Hester used to be homeless and lived on the street in San Francisco. Now he’s running a video channel where he documents homelessness in the city. ABC 7 published a report on Lee yesterday:

Since 2012, Lee has been live streaming what he sees on San Francisco streets, particularly the homeless he comes across in some of the roughest neighborhoods.

“I was really frustrated that there was no exposure of what was really going on in San Francisco.”

The video that first caught our attention, one taken along Market Street near an upscale hotel. The video shows a man, in broad daylight, attempting to cut off a bike lock with a small motorized saw…

Intervening is something Lee does on a daily basis, despite the risks.

“It’s dangerous. It’s risky. But it’s something that I’ve lived through and I feel like I have Street Smart because I’ve been through that and I know when I’m safe and when I’m not.”

It’s not exactly clear what Hester is advocating as a solution. He says a “holistic approach” but I’m not sure what he means by that. Mostly he just seems interested in capturing what is happening on the streets. Back in late 2015, he put together a compilation video of some of the drama he had filmed. This is the kind of thing you could see just walking the streets in SF, much of it filmed during the day. It’s pretty tough to watch. Not just drug use and people passing out but people who are obviously mentally disturbed and ranting in the street. Most people, understandably, are just trying to go about their day without attracting the attention of someone who might be disturbed enough to be dangerous.

Many of Lee’s videos have tens of thousands of views, so people are seeing this but obviously not much has changed in the past few years (except maybe it’s worse). Here’s the report from ABC 7: