Report: Downtown San Francisco Littered with Drug Needles, Piles of Feces

hypodermic needles on streets of San Francisco
eric molina/Flickr

One of the most expensive U.S. cities to live in is on track to become one of the dirtiest cities in the world, an investigation revealed.

Journalists with NBC Bay Area released a report which surveyed 153 blocks in downtown San Francisco and found some shocking results: more than 300 piles of feces and 100 drug needles lined the streets of downtown San Francisco, including in areas near upscale hotels and government buildings.

The report brought so much attention to the issue that one website displayed an interactive poop map to shed light on homelessness in San Francisco.

One infectious disease expert told NBC Bay Area that the streets of San Francisco are on par with or worse than those of developing countries.

“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” said Dr. Lee Riley, a UC Berkeley professor.

Riley added that the slums in developing countries often have long-term housing for the poor, who make attempts to maintain their surroundings. He argued that the poor in San Francisco do not feel the need to clean up after themselves because of a lack of long-term housing.

City officials, however, say the solution to the problem is not through long-term housing, but short-term housing for the homeless.

City Supervisor Hillary Ronen said that the city needs to add more temporary housing in shelters for the homeless to combat the problem instead of using resources to find permanent housing solutions for the homeless.

“We need to find a source of revenue,” said Ronen. “Whether that’s putting something on the ballot to raise business taxes or taking a look at our general fund and re-allocating money towards that purpose and taking it away from something else in the city.”


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