- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Crews on Tuesday cleared out a San Francisco homeless camp under a busy freeway overpass that had vexed residents and businesses for months before city officials declared it a health hazard last week.

The city has long labored to house its homeless, but a shortage of affordable housing amid a tech-based jobs boom has exacerbated tensions. An estimated 3,500 people sleep on the streets of San Francisco each night.

The sweep began well before dawn, with nearly 50 city workers clearing sidewalks and urging campers to move on, said Rachel Gordon, spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works Department.

She said the last tent came down by late morning. Workers then erected barricades on the streets to prevent the homeless from setting up tents again.

At one point, more than 100 tents lined both sides of Division Street, a multilane thoroughfare that divides two rapidly developing neighborhoods, the South of Market and Mission districts.

The area is popular with the homeless because parts of the street are under a freeway overpass, offering shelter from the rain.

Gordon said the sweep was respectful and peaceful, with most campers moving willingly. Some went to shelters, while others moved their tents to nearby streets not yet declared a public health hazard.

The health department posted notices last Tuesday, calling the encampments a public nuisance and ordering people to leave within 72 hours. Health officials also posted a notice Thursday for homeless campers to vacate a neighboring area.

Public health investigations found people in the two areas living among garbage and human waste.

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