“Homelessness Is Not A Crime” is the message behind one of the remarkable and colorful 96 panels of the mosaic mural “Putting the Pieces Together” at the Powell Street BART/MUNI entrance, created by over 300 youth from Larkin Street Youth Services between 1992 and 1995.

This panel was potentially too political at the time that it was done, for putting up in a public BART/MUNI space, given that the City of San Francisco was trying to deal with the homeless encampment in the Plaza across from City Hall, during the tenure of Mayor Art Agnos, in particular.

But BART was alright with it. And felt that it was in the realm of a ‘free speech’ utterance that offended no one, in particular.  But candidly presented a position and frame of reference for citizens to consider from the viewpoint of a homeless youth.  It was a bold and forthright position that BART took at the time and with respect to the human issue of homelessness, rather than political.

November is Runaway and Homeless Youth Month. Consider how the bold political statement of this panel is relevant today.

by Peter Carpou, founder of the Larkin Street Arts Program & former Liaison for Arts and Cultural Development