Help this BART busker get back home

We’re sad to report that a popular BART station musician needs our help to get back on his feet. A few months ago, I ran into Ron Kemp at Powell BART Station, and his gentle and warm voice caught my attention as I was about to rush into the crowd of teenagers in the mall.

It turns out that Ron caught the attention of many riders, as well as Mission Local, which featured him in a story last year. Ron lived in San Francisco for almost a decade in the 90s before he moved back to Maryland. But he was so in love with San Francisco, he moved back last year.

However, the rising cost of living in San Francisco took its toll: he was homeless, living in his car and, sometimes, in a hotel. One station agent loved his music so much that he started a fundraiser for Ron. His friend also started a GoFundMe for him to help with expenses, but our city still proved to be too expensive.

As many of us know, staying in San Francisco isn’t easy, and these recent events were the last straw for Ron. In his own words on his Facebook page:

Needless to say, I/we have been going through the wringer. The final straw came just yesterday as my car was stolen from the parking lot of the hotel we’ve been staying in. Enough.

San Francisco has become too much. In 17 months, the best we’ve been able to do as far as living arrangements are concerned if live-in hotels. Or, worse, my car. That’s not good. So, I’m headed back to Maryland.

I’ve likely played my last set on the streets of San Francisco. Now, it’s trying to get things lined up so that we can get back to the East Coast. It’s a very sad day for me. I’ve loved this city and area since I arrived here in 1986. As my friends back East would tell you, I talked about it all of the time!! This time, though, it didn’t love me back. It shouldn’t be this hard for everyday, working people to survive anywhere!! Alas, the San Francisco Bay Area has become that place.

We had hoped that Ron could play at Muni Diaries Live’s 10th anniversary show in April, but he has to leave the Bay Area before that. I really wish Ron could stay here, and I want San Francisco to be the kind of place where everyone, including lovely, creative people like Ron, can thrive. It’s a conversation we hope you’ll keep having with us and with each other.

In the meantime, you can help Ron by giving what you can to his GoFundMe campaign. I’m still holding out hope that we’ll see Ron back here one day very soon.

One comment

  • Norm

    I was wondering where he had gone. His occasional sets at Civic Center always brought a smile to my face in response to his own and his wonderful voice. Thanks.

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