Federal Workers In San Francisco Urged To Work From Home Due To Crime

"Maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future."
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 30: Homeless people are seen on streets of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California, United States on October 30, 2021. Last week on Tuesday, San Francisco housing project for homeless development is rejected by a majority of the city supervisors with an 8 to 3 vote. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Some federal government workers in San Francisco have been urged to work from home indefinitely due to public safety concerns near their office building.

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told hundreds of employees who work in the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building to work remotely if they can.

“In light of the conditions at the [federal building] we recommend employees … maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future,” Cheryl Campbell, HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration, wrote in an August 4 memo to employees, which was obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle.

“This recommendation should be extended to all Region IX employees, including those not currently utilizing telework flexibilities,” Campbell wrote, referring to an HHS work zone that includes California, Arizona, and Nevada.

The 18-story federal building includes offices of several federal agencies, including HHS, the Labor Department, the Transportation Department, and one of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) offices.

Outside, one of San Francisco’s worst open-air drug markets rages, with dealers and addicts doing business in broad daylight daily. Addicts often hang out and use drugs on the federal building’s concrete benches, the Chronicle reported.

In June, two men were charged with attempting to deal drugs in full view of the federal building’s surveillance cameras, the U.S. Attorney said in a press release. One of the men was in possession of a gun when he was arrested and may have fired a gun at someone near the building months earlier, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Certain types of violent crime are up this year in San Francisco, according to police data.

Murders in San Francisco are up 20% to 35 murders so far. Robberies are up 14% to 1,611 robberies so far. Car thefts are up 13% to 4,119 thefts.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s homelessness and drug crises are still raging, although overdose deaths have dropped from their all-time high in 2020 during the thick of the pandemic.

In 2022, San Francisco saw 620 fatal drug overdoses, down from 640 overdose deaths in 2021. In 2020, overdose deaths spiked to 725.

Homelessness in San Francisco has only gotten worse since before the pandemic. About 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on a given night, up 35% since 2019.

Pelosi’s office said she has recently raised concerns about the federal building’s safety, although her staff has not been told to work from home.


“The safety of workers in our federal buildings has always been a priority for Speaker Emerita Pelosi, whether in the building or on their commutes,” Pelosi spokesperson Aaron Bennett told the Chronicle.

“Federal, state and local law enforcement — in coordination with public health officials and stakeholders — are working hard to address the acute crises of fentanyl trafficking and related violence in certain areas of the city,” the Pelosi spokesman said.

Representative Kevin Kiley (R-CA) reacted to the HHS memo on Sunday, saying San Francisco offers a warning to the country.

“Crime in San Francisco is so out-of-control that employees at the Federal Building are being told to stay home,” Kiley posted Sunday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“If California offers a preview of where our country is headed, San Francisco offers an even starker warning,” the lawmaker said. “This is where failed policies, radical politics, and public corruption are in their most advanced stage – and where residents are most rapidly fleeing.”

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