Homeless ‘State of Emergency’ in San Francisco

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

A supervisor in the San Francisco just declared a “state of emergency” to demand the city and the state spend more money on the homeless.

Supervisor David Campos, known for spearheading the Sanctuary City movement in 2009 to prevent illegal alien deportations, declared a homeless state of emergency at a March 8 press conference in front of one the city’s 16 homeless shelters, referred to as “Navigation Centers’” to prevent committing macroaggressions against (i.e. insulting) the homeless.

Campos blamed what he called years of pushing people without homes into neighborhoods in the Mission District and South of Market Area that have no services. He added, “This failure to act has caused a public health emergency in San Francisco that has reached intolerable levels.”

But the City of San Francisco spends $241 million a year on homelessness through eight city departments that oversee at least 400 contracts to 76 private organizations. Spending on homeless services is up $84 million since 2011.

The city’s 2015 homeless census found that more than 7,500 people were living on the streets of San Francisco, including 853 children under the age of 18. Although 30 became homeless outside the city, the count created a big stir when 30 percent of the adults interviewed self-identified as LGBTQ.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the San Francisco Chronicle that despite all the city funding, well-intentioned people in San Francisco started a crowdfunding campaign to purchase tents for the city’s homeless. Now scores of tents line a number of streets around town. The camper zones usually feature the stench of human feces and urine, along with needles litter on the sidewalks.

Peskin complains that it is now common for deranged people to scream and threaten pedestrians in broad daylight. He personally had to call 911 recently, because a homeless man that was naked from the waist down, with his legs smeared in feces, was standing near his home on the Telegraph Hill’s Filbert Steps. The individual was cursing obscenities, while blocking residents’ ability to walk to their homes.

One of the reasons that San Francisco has such a catastrophic homeless problem is that San Francisco has never implemented a single registry to track street people in order to evaluate the efficacy of spending city funds.

The City Controller first started pushing for a single information network to ensure better tracking of homeless people and money spent to help them fourteen years ago, but the City Council and Board of Supervisors believe such a database might be seen as a violation of the homeless’ privacy rights.

Consequently, neighborhood police officers and doctors at the County Hospital still have no service profiles to tell if a homeless person is receiving food and shelter from a city-funded nonprofit, has been in rehab or might be dangerous. A homeless man slashed a California Highway Patrol officer in the throat near a tent encampment in January.

Supervisor Peskin said, “There’s no question it has gotten exponentially worse.”

But Supervisor Campos believes that by convincing the Board to declare a homeless state of emergency, the San Francisco city government would be allowed to bypass the paperwork and red tape usually associated with housing projects, and spend reserves usually dedicated for natural disasters like fires or floods.


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