By Sherrell Dorsey.
For almost two decades, U.S. Army veteran Del Seymour battled addiction and homelessness in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, a neighborhood long known for poor immigrants, drug use, displaced vets and makeshift shelters.
Today, Seymour gives walking tours of the Tenderloin to tech industry heavy hitters of the Bay Area, offering perspective on the gaping disparity between the city’s haves and have-nots. For 90 minutes, he guides visitors through the history of the neighborhood, showing them where he lived while homeless and talking about displacement and challenges the community faces. More importantly, Seymour uses the tours to create a pathway out of destitution for his homeless neighbors by the way of jobs.
In late 2015, after turning his life around, Seymour launched Code Tenderloin. Despite its name, the organization isn’t another trendy coding boot camp. Instead, the job training and placement program works with the tech community to help homeless individuals establish professional skills, build their resumes, practice interviews and quickly find employment.
Seymour’s use of the word “code” is more of a nod to his military past, meant to underscore the urgency of the call to humanize those not benefiting from San Francisco’s growing billion-dollar tech industry, amid a widening wage gap, lack of affordable housing and rapid gentrification.
“The most significant part of what we do is we break the myth that the homeless do not want to work. We celebrate the fact that [someone] can make an 180-degree turnaround in [their] life,” says Seymour.