American Untouchables: Homeless Scavengers In San Francisco'S Underground Economy

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An early morning at Bryant Salvage, a Vietnamese recycling business, finds a variety of San Francisco's scavengers converging to sell their findings. Vehicle after vehicle enters the yard to be weighed on the huge floor scale before dumping its load in the back; ancient pick-up trucks with wooden walls, carefully loaded laundry carts, canary Cadillacs stuffed to overflow with computer paper, the shopping carts of homeless men, a 1950s ambulance carrying newspaper, and even the occasional gleaming new truck. The homeless men unload their towers of bottles and cardboard while young Latino van recyclers shout jokes across them. Middle aged Vietnamese women in jeans and padded jackets buzz around on forklifts or push around great tubs full of bottles and cans, stopping occasionally to help elderly people with their laundry carts. The van recyclers repeatedly honk their horns at the homeless guys to get out of the way. The homeless recyclers, silently methodical in their work, rarely respond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-190
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
StatePublished - Mar 1 1997


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