To fight homelessness, taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars every year in San Francisco, California – a city that proudly touts its designation as a “sanctuary city” while its streets are becoming more recognized for scattered feces and LGBT demonstrations than cable cars.
London Breed – the new mayor of the city that invites illegal aliens to find a safe harbor from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents – says that the problem of fecal matter scattered on the streets of San Francisco over the past several months is unprecedented.
"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here," Breed told NBC Bay Area. "That is a huge problem, and we are not just talking about from dogs – we’re talking about from humans.”
The problem was recently brought to light by a shocking NBC Bay Area investigation that went viral.
“The report centered around a 153-block survey of downtown San Francisco, which revealed trash on every block, 100 needles, and more than 300 piles of feces along the 20-mile stretch of streets and sidewalks,” the local news agency reported.
To help remedy the transient problem on the streets, more than $37,300 per homeless person will be spent by the city at taxpayers’ expense.
“San Francisco is slated to spend nearly $280 million this year on housing and services for the homeless – a roughly 40-percent increase compared to just five years ago,” NBC Bay Area’s Bigad Shaban, Robert Capos and Anthony Rutanashoodech reported. “Over that same span, however, the number of homeless in the city has largely remained the same at about 7,500 people – according to city counts.”
It appears as if most of the filth on the streets can be credited to a little over half of San Francisco’s homeless population.
“Out of the 7,499 homeless people recorded last year, about 58 percent (4,353 people) were marked as unsheltered, [and] the other 3,146 were designated sheltered,” Fox News divulged. “In 2015 – when the homeless population was estimated to be 7,539 – there were 4,358 unsheltered, compared to 3,181 sheltered, [and] in data going back to 2013, when the homeless population was estimated to be 7,350, there were 4,315 unsheltered compared to 3,035 sheltered.”
Even though the transient population is not escalating, city costs to clean up after the homeless is skyrocketing.
“The city’s street cleaning budget [is] slated for [a] 20-percent boost,” the NBC news team announced. “San Francisco spent $65 million on street cleaning last year and plans to add nearly $13 million in additional spending over the next two years.”
San Francisco’s annual budgets for homeless outreach programs and services in recent years exceeded $241 million and $275 million – with much of the amounts being used to fund supportive housing units to get the homeless off the streets, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, and the local daily notes that the rising costs have added to the city’s all-time-high $11-billion overall budget.
Breed – who was sworn in as mayor last week to take over for Gavin Newsome – is calling on the homeless to take pride in their city and not desecrate it.
"About 70 percent of the people estimated to be homeless in San Francisco were actually housed in San Francisco before they became homeless," she pointed out. "We have to make sure people who live here, [and] sadly, people who are homeless here, that they are also held accountable for taking care of our streets. This is our home."
She is urging nonprofit homeless advocacy groups that receive city funding to do a better job at educating and encouraging the homeless to pick up their own waste and refuse.
"I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community – at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood," Breed shared with the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit before being asked about enforcing stiff fines for littering and defecating on the streets. “I didn’t express anything about a penalty, [but I did urge these organizations] to talk to their clients, who, unfortunately, were mostly responsible for the conditions of our streets."
Money well-spent or wasted?
When a human rights organizer serving with the Coalition on Homelessness advocacy group was asked about the specific measures being taken to clean up the streets of San Francisco, it was conceded that a clear plan with decisive goals was not in the works.
“We got a lot of means to interact with folks and talk to folks, but we don’t have the means to keep them in homes,” Dayton Andrews, whose organization is based in San Francisco, told Fox News. “We spend a lot of money, but we don’t have a clear picture of all the different issues that these social services need to solve.”
Nick Josefowitz, who is running to become the next city supervisor for San Francisco’s District 2, contends that money should not be freely pumped into programs that have no accountability for results.
"Despite decades of well-intentioned bills, spending efforts or guiding plans, the same tragic scene continues day after day and year after year," Josefowitz wrote in an April article published in Medium. “Indeed, in recent years the situation has become so much worse, yet too often, City Hall is still making decisions on homelessness based on folk wisdom rather than hard evidence.”
He said that in addition to taking more surveys to find out specific problems and needs, city officials must closely analyze where money is being well-spent – and wasted.
“[The city government needs to] double down on the programs that are working and shut down those that are not,” Josefowitz added. “Asking volunteers to count people who appear to be homeless once every two years is fundamentally inadequate to ensure city government has the information it needs to adequately respond to this epidemic. We should be tracking our population in real time – otherwise, we have to wait far too long to know whether what we’re doing is working.”
Two years ago, this same lack of accountability was voiced by the city’s largest daily.
“That a city can spend $241 million a year on programs and still confront such human misery suggests those dollars are not being spent with anything close to optimal effectiveness,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board wrote in 2016. “Eight city departments and 76 private and nonprofit organizations draw from those funds in 400 contracts, yet the degree of accountability is highly suspect.”
The district with the biggest transient problem is the home of some of San Francisco’s biggest attractions and employers, and the major causes of much of the homelessness was found to be rooted in unemployment, substance abuse and expensive housing.
“The most recent homeless count survey says about half of the city’s homeless population is clustered in one northeast district that includes city hall, the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park and the corporate offices of companies such as Twitter and Uber,” Fox News’ Greg Norman informed. “Those surveyed cited job loss as the biggest cause of their homelessness, followed by problems tied to alcohol and drug use. They also said their biggest obstacle to obtaining permanent housing is not being able to afford the pricey rents of apartments and homes in the Bay Area.”