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How SF neighborhoods are helping each other during the coronavirus shelter-in-place order

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The Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association is organizing a block-by-block plan to assist residents

A closed sign is posted to the entrance of a store.
A sign posted to the entrance of a store, one of many announcing temporary closures.
Photo by AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Thirteen blocks in the Lower Haight were “covered” with volunteers Tuesday night. Only 39 more to go.

“It’s been a long day, but we’re going to do this,” says Dan Johnson, a member of the Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association, speaking by phone from his apartment on Laussat Street.

Johnson is just one of a handful of people in the neighborhood association (“LoHaMNA” for short) who have mobilized efforts to help neighbors during the shelter-in-place order in San Francisco.

The plan involves regular checks on the elderly, the lonely, or anyone who needs extra help that prevents them from leaving their homes to obtain essentials like groceries or medicine. Still in its nascent stages, the association isn’t yet exactly sure how the handing off of essentials will happen.

“We are first organizing, then figuring out tactics for helping people that maximize everyone’s safety,” he says.

The block representatives will manage basic requests and ask for help from the greater neighborhood should they need it.

The neighborhood group has also initiated a Lower Haight Merchants Community Fund, which will distribute funds to Lower Haight merchants in need, with a total of 10 grants. The money can be used for payroll, rent, accounts payable, utilities, and other essential services to help temporarily shuttered shops until they reopen for business.

In an effort to respect social distancing and the welfare of the community, the organization is being done virtually. Anyone who wants to sign up as a block representative or learn more about the community fund should contact lowerhaight415@gmail.com or visit LoHaMNA.

In Nob Hill, the neighborhood’s younger denizens have banded together to get groceries to older residents, who are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

On the counter of Le Beau Market, as SFGate reports, a printed our sign taped to the counter reads: “Are you elderly or know of anyone who is and are afraid of going to the store? We have a team of neighborhood volunteers ready to help with grocery delivery! We are young and healthy and will take proper precautions. — Your Nob Hill Neighbors”

Some local businesses are helping out by offering free goods to healthcare professionals, like Andytown in the Outer Sunset.

“We are encouraging customers to purchase coffee and pastries to be delivered to healthcare professionals working at hospitals and senior care facilities,” notes the local coffee roasting company. This also allows the coffeeshop to maintain a revenue stream and stay in business.

The Nextdoor pages for the Sunset and Parkside districts are also chock-full of posts of people offering support for others in the area, from dog walking to grocery delivery. Others post about supplies and where they are available (e.g., toilet paper seen at Stonestown Target, etc.). It’s a nice change from the typical porch pirate and parking morass, and proof that when it really counts, Westsiders look out for each other.

If you know of organized efforts in your neighborhood, please detail them in the comments section below or contact Curbed SF at brock@curbed.com.