Nonprofit 'Crack+Cider' Helps Locals Shop For Homeless Neighbors

From the rise in tent encampments to Propositions J and Q on this year's local ballot, homelessness has been much on San Franciscans' minds this year, and it's clear there's no easy solution.

In the meantime, Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro, founders of the nonprofit Crack+Cider, are hoping to make a difference for those currently living on the streets. They're launching pop-up shops and an online store that allow members of the community to purchase essential items that are then distributed to homeless people.

Cramer and Montanaro, who hail from London, got the idea for the nonprofit while on vacation in Berlin in 2014. They spoke to a homeless man, who told them that people were disinclined to give him money because they believed he would spend it on cider and crack. 

Before the encounter, Cramer said she also felt uncomfortable giving money to homeless people, because of the stigma that they would spend it on drugs and alcohol. But the conversation changed her perspective, and she set out to find a way to connect other people who cared about homelessness with people in need.

Cramer and Montanaro started with a pop-up store in London, where people could purchase items like jackets and backpacks, which Cramer and her team then delivered to homeless shelters. The nonprofit made sure there were enough items for every single person in the shelter before sending them out.

After moving from London to the Bay Area for her job as a strategist at the global experience design agency Bynd, Cramer is now bringing Crack+Cider's efforts to San Francisco.

Supplies currently on sale in the online store. | Screenshot: Crack+Cider

To kick things off, Crack+Cider is partnering with the Tenderloin Museum to host a pop-up shop from November 10th-December 23rd. Jackets, backpacks, prescription glasses, doggy care packs and female hygiene packs will be on sale at the museum and online. Crack+Cider will then donate the items purchased to Hospitality House and Lava Mae's ongoing Pop-Up Care Village.

To celebrate the launch, Crack+Cider is hosting a panel discussion November 10th at the Tenderloin Museum. The event will feature speakers from both Lava Mae and Hospitality House.

Heading into their San Francisco launch, Cramer is well aware of the differences in tackling homelessness in London compared to San Francisco. Specifically, she sees two vast differences.

First, the breadth of the problem is much bigger in the United States than in the United Kingdom, she said.

Secondly, the government in the UK has a safety net to help people who recently lost their job, so it ensures as few people as possible suffer from homelessness, Cramer said. In the United States, on the other hand, most aid money is spent on people who are already or have been homeless for some time.

As newcomers to the local nonprofit landscape, Cramer also emphasized how important it was for Crack+Cider to partner with credible organizations in San Francisco, like the Tenderloin Museum, that understand the full extent of the issue.

Crack+Cider's launch event and panel discussion are free and open to the public. Click below to reserve a seat.

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