Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentimentality. He needs to help San Francisco’s homeless population, the city’s poorest, the most vulnerable.
The latest reports on homelessness in San Francisco (see here and here) indicate that as the city’s population grows, its homeless population will grow too.
Why not focus on the problem today to save millions to solve it in the future? In the past, cities have responded to the homeless problem they had at the time by simply moving homeless people to the suburbs. But San Francisco isn’t an urban jungle in which people can simply vanish into the ether of the suburbs. This city has always been an urban center with a dense population.
Yet, as we know from cities around the country, the suburbs never were, and are not, safe havens for the homeless population.
Many cities have the resources, resources of which municipalities can only dream, to ensure that the homeless population can find adequate housing within the city. They can also set goals for affordable housing availability, like San Francisco’s affordable housing supply of 10,000 units per year, or its goal of 20,000 units per year within five years.
But as the population of San Francisco grows, and the cost of housing skyrockets, there’s simply no space for more homeless people.
We also need to stop the propaganda that homeless people are merely “drug addicts.” As you read this, at least two people are shooting up heroin and other drugs in San Francisco. These addicts are also, in my opinion, “fence sitters,” living along the city’s most vulnerable communities.
The best approach, therefore, is to focus on people who are currently sleeping in the streets and who are not yet in jail. We need to bring them all into permanent housing with the promise of employment with a stable income, to allow them to be productive citizens