In what homeless advocates call a “cruel” move, Sup. Scott Wiener is asking city departments to crack down on homeless people who are living on the sidewalks in tents.

Scott Wiener wants to clear out homeless tents
Scott Wiener wants to clear out homeless tents

The El Nino rains have brought a proliferation of tent cities along strips like Division Street, which is also under a highway and more protected. There are some in Wiener’s district, too.

So he’s written to the police chief, the fire chief, the director of public works, the director of public health, the head of human services and the mayor’s homeless coordinator and asked, “assuming the availability of shelter beds, what will be done to remove illegal tent encampments from our streets …. Or will the law continue to be ignored as it is being ignored today?”

He said that it’s a failure for the city “to make clear to those who refuse help that tents on our sidewalks and in our public spaces are unacceptable.”

The letter was first reported by KQED.

The thing about the tents: I don’t think they represent an increase in the homeless population. They seem to have arrived at the same time as the rains. I’m not sure where the homeless people got the money to buy the tents, but it seems entirely plausible that the tent cities are no different than existing homeless camps – except for the fact that Mayor Lee is driving homeless people out of downtown to make way for a party for rich people, which means there are more homeless residents in the neighborhoods.

And I wonder: Considering that the rains are a serious public health problem, and that the city doesn’t really have an alternative for a lot of the people living on the streets, isn’t it better that people have tents to sleep in? Wouldn’t there be more health issues (and possible deaths) if homeless people were sleeping in doorways and on sidewalks in the pouring rain?

Homeless service organizations have often sought to give out sleeping bags, particularly when it gets cold. Is that a problem?

The tents are exceptionally visible, and at a time when the city is trying to look good for the tourist world with all of these glitzy Super Bowl events, they are a reminder that all is not well in wealthy San Francisco. Is that a bad thing? Should we try to hide from the TV cameras that vast income and wealth gap in this city, the displacement that the tech boom has created, the reality that bringing great riches to San Francisco has also created great poverty?

I’m actually looking forward to the Super Bowl fans all over the world getting a bit of that message. It’s real. It’s what the people who run this city have done. And they shouldn’t be able to hide it behind golden “50” signs.

Here’s what the Coalition on Homelessness says:

According to Paul Boden, Executive Director of Western Regional Advocacy Project “There is simply nowhere for homeless people to go.  They are sheltering themselves as best they can in leaking tents in the midst of a storm, and here Supervisor Wiener, in a low blow to people struggling to survive, calls on the city to enforce a tent ban. He seems to forget that only the most heartless San Franciscan would send humans to shiver in the cold.”

While the supervisor calls for transitioning those in tents into housing/shelter, he offers no viable solutions in his letter, and instead simply assumes there are enough shelter beds for all homeless people.  He enquires about the number of vacant shelter beds, but does not ask how many seeking shelter are turned away.  There are often empty shelter beds for a variety of reasons that are not available for shelter seekers, and dozens are sent away daily, while over 900 are on the waitlist for shelter.   There is one shelter bed for every 5.5 homeless people, and there are over 8,000 households on public housing waitlist.

“Mr. Weiner’s letter is in direct contrast to the very spirit of the City of St. Francis.  His timing was telling, as was his lack of solutions.  Homeless people are suffering enough, and his letter was surprisingly cruel,” according to Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

Wiener told me that “it’s cruel to accept a status quo where tents line our streets and where people live in dangerous and unhealthy circumstances rather than in shelters or housing. I find it extraordinary that people who claim to advocate for the homeless would lash out at somebody who is simply asking questions and advocating that tents are not a homeless solution.”

On this I think we can all agree: Tents are not a long-term housing solution. On the other hand, for a long time we’ve taken a position in this city that harm-reduction is a good policy. Wiener told me that “we’re better off with people in shelters, even temporary shelter” than in tents.

Sure, if there are adequate shelters for all, that cater to the needs of all, and aren’t such a hassle that many refuse to deal with them.

But we don’t, any more than we have treatment on demand for every drug addict, or mental-health services on demand for every person who needs help, and in the meantime, we have needle-exchange to keep IV drug users from getting and spreading infections and we (should) try to keep mentally ill people from going to jail as a last resort. Bevan Dufty, when he was the homeless coordinator, suggested a subsidized “wet house” where alcoholics could live inside, and drink.

When it’s raining and people risk death from exposure, and when the city can’t offer shelters that work for all of them, isn’t it better that people are out of the rain? The tents don’t seem like such an awful thing. Better tents on the sidewalks than dead people on the sidewalks.

And instead of trying to get rid of them, let’s talk about why they are there in the first place. Wiener wants more data, and I would suggest he add a line: How many of the people in the tents are San Franciscans who are on the streets because they were evicted to make room for somebody with more money?

  • Brad Phillips

    Right or wrong this is a very shrewd move by Mr. Wiener. There appears to be a sense among a majority of citizens that the camps are leading to sanitation and crime issues. I mean how many bicycle chop shops operate in broad daylight? As progressives, if we are to have any chance of holding power again in SF, we must address the worst elements of tent camp culture and not only offer platitudes – people have eyes, ears and noses – they are tired of the crap, literally.

    • FLOlmsted

      I am one of those residents you mention who’re tired of the public health & safety issues the homeless encampments bring, but I’m thrilled they’re more visible during the Super Bowl. I think SF needs a few different scarlet letters displayed prominently while we have the attention of the rest of the country.

  • Mario Grillo

    But, some of those homeless can’t abide by any rules, or authority. Just saying..

  • goodmaab

    Simple solution require politicians like Weiner to buy market rate buildings with increased corporate taxes and requests for philanthropic donations by such big pegs as Apple and Google to help house those that are being displaced. There are plenty of empty units all around the city. Mandate services and fund the appropriate solutions through proper real estate and big biz taxes. Wiener needs to step up to the plate and stop trying to shovel the problem with the mayor under the rug.

    • FLOlmsted

      Here here!

  • chasmader

    It’s not the job of the City to house, feed and clothe every homeless person who shows up here. And it’s certainly not my obligation as a taxpayer to pay for it all.

    • TS Bell

      But it’s okay for your taxes to fund the Super Bowl, right? There are way more things your tax dollars are going to well before they are spent on the homeless.

      • chasmader

        You’re deflecting. The two are not mutually exclusive.
        I didn’t want the Superbowl the last time it was “here” and neither do I want it now; though ironically, both times the game will be played in Santa Clara County and NOT San Francisco.

  • Sean Nolan

    Yeah, no, I have to say, the tent cities have gotten absolutely out of hand. Along Division and some places on Folsom, you literally can no longer walk on the sidewalks (and Division has WIDE sidewalks) — you actually are forced into the road when walking, because the tents and possessions (and shopping carts) are completely blocking the sidewalks from curb to fence in many cases. Something has to be done, and unless the homeless advocates have another solution, they can STFU on this one. I walk everywhere in the city and I’d LIKE to be able to do so without encroaching upon our all-too-dangerous-for-pedestrians streets.

    • Donald Dewsnup

      I couldn’t agree more! Thank You for the comment.

    • L_Mariachi

      Yeah, the dangers and problems of living in a tent on the street totally pale in comparison to the inconvenience you suffer having to walk around them. Maybe you’d find it easier to navigate if you pulled your head out of your ass.

      • Sean Nolan

        Right. And when they move onto the streets, why, the cars can simply drive on OTHER roads, right? Walking around them is what I do…into traffic…which technically makes ME guilty of breaking the law, because THEY are breaking the law. Not to mention putting myself and others in danger because of walking into the street.

        • educ8yourself

          Wow, how do you deal with that inconvenience sean? That is a travesty, you have to walk around them and sometimes risk breaking the law???

          • Sean Nolan

            I do what I have to, of course, but that doesn’t mean it is right for anyone to cause me to have to make that choice. Sorry, I don’t consider walking into traffic an “inconvenience”. Would you want a child to have to do so? What about a person of advanced years? Your snark is misplaced. We are not discussing an “inconvenience”, we are talking about a potential threat to public safety and health. The homeless are no less at risk due to this behavior, but you seem to advocate putting them and others at risk rather than address the violation of city and state ordinances.

          • Blow it out your wingnut ass – if your head doesn’t get in the way.

          • Mike K

            Why don’t we meet in person and discuss it. You are a fake punk.

          • thisismyaccount

            Great at criticizing and faux compassion. Short on constructive solutions huh? You are a good San Franciscan. Cheers!

        • Hope you slept well last night, compassionlessly righteous jackhole.

      • Mike K

        You should get your head out of your ass. Fake tough guy. I have seen ladies with babies in carriages have to walk in the street because these bums are camping on the sidewalk. I am more concerned with the ladies and kids over the bums in tents.

        • BlankedyBlankBlank

          Please take a picture of the ladies with babies in carriages that are walking down Division Street. I don’t believe you.

          • L_Mariachi

            I’m surprised he didn’t throw in paralyzed war veterans in wheelchairs and polio victims in iron lungs. And Bubble Boy! Won’t someone think of poor Bubble Boy, helplessly bounced around in traffic.

        • Patrick

          Well, aren’t YOU just the sweetest, most courteous asshole!

  • clarkbennett

    The DOJ notes that for homeless people, sleeping in public is “precisely the type of ‘universal and unavoidable’ conduct that is necessary for human survival for homeless individuals who lack access to shelter space… Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

    • Sean Nolan

      Were there “nowhere else to go” in SF, this might be accurate, but SF has beds going begging in many shelters nightly.

      • clarkbennett

        Yes, that is addressed in the quote I provided. But if there are 100 beds and 101 homeless than nobody can be made to use the shelter. There must be a surplus at all times in order to legitimatize criminalizing public sleeping

      • TS Bell

        Did you read the article? There were other factors involved in a lot of cases that prevented access for the homeless to the available space. In other words, there was room for them, but for some reason they did not qualify to stay in those facilities. Most people would not choose to sleep on the street. I guess more people would be compassionate about the issue if these were animals, instead of people being done this way.

  • Donald Dewsnup

    The Jist of what Supervisor Wiener stated is that we need more Navigation Centers and more Homeless Shelters in the City. Homeless San Franciscans deserve to sleep in a real structure not in a tent under a freeway, especially during an earthquake. I would be great to house the homeless that are migrating from all over the West Coast in abandoned pier buildings and at the Cow Palace with Supe Malia Cohen’s permission of course. We need real solutions not whiny complaints, fear mongering or fingerpointing. The homeless situation has gotten so way out of hand its growing to the point that perhaps the City is becoming overwhelmed by the 12K to 15K population of folks living on the streets. We need a comprehensive program that rehabilitates, provides shelter with their possessions and pets, and employment immersion with a social services counselor “sponsor” assigned to each individual.

  • verymadperson

    If I have to step over one more piss smelling, disease carrying bum, I’m gonna start some shotgun justice. Sick and tired of working for a living to pay for the high cost of living in the city and having to avoid bums begging me for money and cigarettes every damn day. Clean the city up and get rid of the bum infestation. I want to be able to walk down Market street and not smell urine around every corner. How can anyone think this is acceptable? I don’t have a single bit of remorse for the homeless, they are a pest. Why is it my problem? Where are their families?

    • educ8yourself

      Shotgun justice. Sounds like the christian values of the GOP at work.

      • Greg

        Exactly. Perfectly illustrates the difference between GOP and oh-so-smug Democrats.

        GOP: Shoot ’em

        Democrats (as personified by Ed Lee and Scott Weiner): Kick ’em out on the street to die of pneumonia, ’cause we’re better than those nasty old Republicans.

    • Anna

      I agree! “Clean the city up”…of people like you verymadperson. Your attitude perpetuates our city’s homeless issues and the extreme divide between the wealthy and the poor in San Francisco. You’re the one who is disease carrying. You’re sick with apathy and hate.

    • JZ

      Well, as retired, we were considering relocating to San Francisco or perhaps Portland (Grimm). When I lived near Los Angeles in the 1960’s….I read of the hippies in San Francisco. They are still there, plentiful in Portland, and so are the illegals and murders which we read of daily in the news! And SF is a “Sanctuary City”. Being a second-Amendment American citizen….BORN HERE….It is guaranteed…there is little chance of surviving my .45 ACP .45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP.45 ACP when I defend myself. We should let the Marines clean this up for us..our country has become a cesspool of crime, filth, decay, and illegals polluting our American Dream…

      • Darf Nader

        You forgot to say “get off my lawn!”.

  • Hata H. Zappa

    I think the real question San Franciscans ought to be asking themselves if not about the homeless, but about the people who are lining Weiner’s pockets. Following the money always leads to a very dark place, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically.

  • Simply, Scott is there resolution growing forget those whom, chose to be “homeless” regarding
    “Ellis Act” we discuss. Mr.Mirco housing bogus concern removing the blight where fight provide adequate housing policies where repeating same tricks. Scott when going to run for mayor?

    • Darf Nader

      That was completely incoherent. Then again, your handle is @cummbottom:disqus.

  • andy

    As long as he has money for all his friends to bareback on PrEP who cares about the homeless!?

  • chris12bb

    Weiner has opened the dialog and pointed a spotlight on a very real issue. More than can be said of the most affected district supervisors, Campos and Kim.

    As Boden and Friedenbach are homeless professionals rather than bemoan Scott’s concerns they should offer real alternative solutions.

  • Tyro

    San Francisco has had this problem of homeless taking up sidewalk space for decades. It’s nothing new, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it negatively impacts the quality of life of everyone else and that politicians will be rewarded for attempting to get them off the sidewalks.

  • Brian Jillson

    I walk Duboce with friends, we cook, provide gloves, socks, and warm dry clothing to the homeless. We’ve met people who can’t find employment – a welder, a barber, a disable former Sacramento firewoman, and we’ve met some who appear to need special medication and care. Where do the tents come from? These are the homeless campers that hide out in the woodland areas of SF, but the heavy rains bring some of them to shelter under the freeway. This issue requires comprehensive attention, the issues for being homeless are broad, and shelters alone simply is not the solution. We will be out canvassing again Feb 4th, caring for these people who have fallen through societies cracks, and who some say “my taxes should solve this problem.” How about we remember our societal contract and learn how to better treat the least among us. Get out there and talk to these people as I and my friends have, hear the human story of the real human condition, and maybe you’ll be moved to act and do something to help resolve the issue. Mr. Wiener is a joke.

    • TS Bell

      Brian, it’s nice to hear from someone who is trying to make a difference. Jesus said, “…the poor you have with you always.” However, He was not condoning ignoring them or mistreating them either. It is one thing to discuss possible solutions, but it’s better to take action as you have done and find a way, even in some small form to help. God bless you.

    • Darf Nader

      @brian_jillson:disqus That’s obviously very kind of you, and your empathy is admirable, but what exactly is society supposed to doing for these people but isn’t? When you say “social contract”, I’m assuming you mean some form of mutual protection, so what can be done at the systemic level to protect these people, but also requires them to invest in that same system? (The second bit is the “mutual” part.) In other words, aside the acts of charity and hearing people’s stories, what should we all be doing that would abate this problem which I think we can all agree is way out of hand?

      You clearly are a man of action, and you are probably taking a lot of time out of your day to help with the daily needs of very needy people. You are a rare sort of person. However, what are you actually doing to improve the situation of the group as a whole? I’m not saying that accusingly- I am saying posing it as a logical question. What I am getting at is even if everyone got out on the street and gave these folks clean socks and a Lara bars every night, does that actually solve the problem? Rhetorical question- No, it just staunches the bleeding and if anything, perpetuates the situation as it stands. I’m not saying that to discourage you from your good works. I’m just pointing it out as a fact.

      Sadly, no one on this page even thinks they have a reasonable answer to this problem. (No, the crazy guy who wants to shoot the homeless doesn’t count.) Everyone has an opinion about what the bigger issue is, who or what is to blame, or even whether the feces on the street is of canine or human origin. However, even if you despise Wiener, at least he thinks he has a reasonable answer to the problem. I’m not saying it’s the right one, but at least he’s addressing the system itself. You can say “everyone deserves a home” easily enough, but do you really believe it? Does that even apply to the guy who would turn around and set the place ablaze as soon as you turned your back? Or to ask it another way, can we at least agree that the problem can’t be solved just by giving someone a free house?

      I leave you with this question: since you have first hand experience with the people who have chosen to deal with their plight by living in tents in public places, what is it that these people need to get back on their feet so that they can be functional members of society again where they can hold down a job and pay for a roof over their heads? I am sure it’s more than just one thing, but I genuinely want to hear what people have told you. I don’t believe that everyone in a tent is a goldbricking junkie or is mentally disabled, but there seems to be a clear disconnect somewhere. I am leaning towards the possibility being that people who live this way want something that is either unreasonable (meaning something the city can’t afford or legally provide) or they simply want to be left alone (which is obviously unacceptable because it basically means “do nothing and let the problem fester.”).

      If I am way off, please set the record straight. Please be sure to tag my name so I get alerted- otherwise I will never get the chance to read your reply.

  • I’m disappointed in Superintendent Wiener. I’ve been following him for awhile now and have thought him one of the most compassionate of our supes. Yes, he asked the questions, but they are a smokes screen. He is savvy enough to have known the answers already:

    There are not enough beds/shelters for our homeless population. The fact we have so many sleeping on the streets is an indictment against our city. We are not solving this problem, and we most assuredly are not solving it with compassion and support for those who need it most.

    The answer is not to cosmetically remove them during events such as the Superbowl. The answer is to provide both short term and long term solutions to the problem of our mentally ill and impoverished neighbors having no safe place to live.

  • cosmicwonderful

    This is borderline libel by Tim. Supervisor Wiener emphasizes ad nauseum that he views the increased prevalence of tents as evidence of our city’s failure to provide adequate services to those who need them. He repeatedly states his concerns that the tents are not safe or sanitary enough for the homeless occupants themselves, and that we clearly ought to be providing the homeless occupants real shelters instead of accepting the status quo.

    For Tim to suggest that Wiener is advocating a crackdown on homeless people living in tents irrespective of the availability of better, city-provided solutions would appear to be an epic failure of reading comprehension if it wasn’t so obviously malicious. I count no fewer than ten instances — in a two-page letter! — in which Wiener asks about or suggests efforts to provide more and better services to the homeless people living in the tents.

    It is patently clear that Wiener’s hope to eliminate the tents is conditional on providing better options than tents to their occupants. To shame him for that is craven and duplicitous.

    It takes a particularly shameless writer to read Wiener’s letter and summarize it under the salacious headline above. Your readers deserve better.

    • voltairesmistress

      I agree, and would add that turning a blind eye to public encampments or voicing qualified support for their removal does not make a politician pro- or anti-homeless persons’ rights. The Supreme Court has made it clear that governments cannot keep people from sleeping outdoors, if there is no place to sleep indoors sheltered. What Wiener is a saying is that we have to insist that we have on offer the number of beds and services that people without their own homes need. Continuing to accept tents on sidewalks day and night without directly offering housing to tent occupants is neither liberal nor magnanimous.

  • Greg

    Thank you Scott Weiner for raising an issue completely ignored by Campos and our other leaders. So easy for Tim not to have a problem with tents since he lives up on a hill where this isn’t an issue. For those of us who walk through it every day, the piss, feces, needles, trash, and other crime associated with these camps is completely unacceptable. The camp at Chavez / 101 is completely out of hand and has been that way long before the rains started.

    When someone is sleeping on the street, we should should have compassion and absolutely try to get them in a shelter. When they build a structure like a tent, they are breaking the law. Sorry, but the parks, sidewalks and open areas belong to all of us and you don’t have the right to build a structure on them for your personal use.

    This is been going on for a very long time. When I moved here 16 years ago I got in an argument with the police over a camp on Alabama Street. Even after pointing out the needles, feces, etc., I couldn’t get them to do anything about it. This is not new.

    • Greg

      If you’re concerned about feces, then you should be outraged about wealthy dog owners who don’t clean up after their animals, because that’s where the vast majority of feces on the streets comes from.

      If you’re concerned about parks and sidewalks being appropriated for private use, then you should direct your outrage at private corporations taking over public parks for private events, and disrupting traffic by closing off entire blocks for conventions.

      Let’s be honest here. This is not what this is about.

      You advocate for cracking down on tents, giving lip service to “trying” to give people housing, but conveniently ignoring the fact that there is 1 bed for every 5.5 homeless people. If you’re advocating cracking down on tents when it’s pouring rain, then you’re effectively advocating for kicking people out into the rain to die of pneumonia. Let’s be honest about what you’re really advocating for, Ok?

      • Greg

        I strongly disagree with all 3 of your assertions and find them all highly flawed.

        Most of the feces on my street are from people not dogs. Sadly, I’ve learned the difference living in SF.

        Someone getting a permit for a street fair, corporate event, or construction gets permits and if you have an issue with it, deal with it through the political process. Someone building a tent on the sidewalk is analogous to me deciding that I want a yard so I fence off part of the sidewalk and attach it to my home. Should that be allowed?

        Of the homeless I’ve talked to and brought food to, almost all prefer a tent to a shelter. If I was given the choice between a shelter or living in a tent I sure as hell would take the tent option.

        • Greg

          I too know the difference. It’s pretty easy to tell by size actually -one comes from a much bigger animal. And there’s simply no comparison in the frequency. I can walk down the street and see dog feces on every single block. Human? Almost never. I’ve challenged people to point some out to me on the street, and they never can. If indeed you get so lucky (or unlucky as the case may be), I will easily point out ten instances of dog feces in the same time.

          The permit issue is a red herring. Who cares if the Ed Lee administration issues permits? That just shows the Ed Lee administration doesn’t give a crap about giving away our public space to private corporations. Maybe Ed Lee should issue permits to the homeless. Would that make you feel better?

          Similarly, the issue isn’t what the homeless prefer. You strike me as someone who doesn’t give a damn about what they prefer anyway. If the shelter beds WERE available, it might be appropriate to discuss the right or wrong of forcing the homeless out of tents and into shelters. But until then, there’s no leg to stand on. You want to force the homeless out of tents today, right NOW, not when shelter beds are available. And I’m saying that when there’s no shelter beds available, it’s tantamount to letting them die.

          • Greg

            You know absolutely nothing about me. Why the personal attack? I guess I’m just kidding myself that there can be constructive discourse of differing points of view on a site like this.

          • Greg

            Personal attack? Not sure what you interpreted as a personal attack -the only thing I can think of is my comment that you strike me as someone who doesn’t care what homeless people prefer. Well… you applaud crackdowns on tents, even though you say yourself that they prefer to be in tents. So according to your own words, you could care less what they prefer. How is that a personal attack?

          • L_Mariachi

            Greg ↪︎ Greg • 2 hours ago

            You know absolutely nothing about me.

            I’m getting pretty confused here.

          • NoeValleyJim

            Walk down Willow Street between Larkin and Polk sometime.

  • Gary Williams

    They are here because other places send them here! Simple solution. Send them back where they came from.

    • Darf Nader

      This is actually true, though you’ll never find out the sources.

  • Kent Robie

    The tent explosion started before the rains. I live on 11th Street and have been seeing the them since before Thanksgiving.

    • MorganDriver

      I have heard it is Jennifer Friedenbach’s group who are giving out the tents.

    • L_Mariachi

      Almost as if someone were capable of predicting that it rains here in winter and planning ahead for it!

  • Darf Nader

    “Mayor Lee is driving homeless people out of downtown to make way for a party for rich people”… this is so hysterical and wrong-headed I don’t even know where to begin. To blame Ed Lee for one more thing- this time, apparently bringing in monied people that are displacing homeless people from their downtown habitat- is ludicrously silly bordering on sociopathic if you think about it for more than 1 second.

    The article goes on to suggest that the city should continue to bend more and more to the wants (not needs) of the homeless population and went as far as saying that the city should provide a “wet house” which would be a shelter where homeless people can drink. I laughed out loud for that one. Can you imagine a shelter where destitute drunks were allowed to come in and drink themselves to death? Think of a bar that was full of the worst drunks possible and then take away the bar’s ability to kick out people who were too drunk to be there, or to be able to send them home at 2 AM because they don’t have one. Why is it that it is a taboo to ask a homeless person to adjust their lifestyles in any way in order to receive public assistance? I think asking someone who would otherwise be dead drunk to get treatment for alcoholism as a contingency for getting public assistance is obviously looking out for that person’s welfare even when that person is unable to do so for him or herself. To do otherwise is basically enabling. I’m not saying that we should drug test anyone that makes use of public services, but considering that next to mental illness that drugs and alcohol are one of the leading causes of homelessness, it would seem logical to make at least some effort to treat their addiction issues as a fundamental part of turning their lives around. To just give drunks and drug addicts 3 squares and roof over their head without addressing their addiction is doing nothing short of enabling their slow suicide. That is not ethical. It’s lazy.

    Yes, before any move to enforce the existing laws about squatting, there should be actual resources available for people to receive mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, or simply a clean bed in a safe shelter for every homeless person in the city limits assuming they abide by the most basic level of social behavior. Still, I wonder if the city demonstrated those things that the people who call Wiener “cruel” for calling for the end of these tent cities would be satisfied. It would seem that the homeless’ harsh and sad circumstances make them in some way sacred and immune to the laws that apply to the rest of us. People who don’t want to have a tent city on their street are made to feel like monsters for being “heartless” and i don’t think any amount of expansion of the city’s existing social programs would change that, any more than the fact that there will always be a certain kind of homeless person who refuses public assistance in favor of the “freedom” to sleep on on the sidewalk, getting loaded whenever they want, etc…

  • tom garner

    Force people like this to walk in the shoes of those he hates and tries to kill. Reject him in every area, shun and shame him until he understands what he is doing to those with the least amount of power. Maybe then he will get a clue!

    There was a time that i would have said kinder words to and about such fools as this ‘wiener’. Kind words seem to be failing many of us that have been talking about poverty and homelessness. It’s my intention to speak louder and louder, until the poorest of us are clearly heard and understood. Who’s with me?

  • Reginald Bronner

    Shouldn’t Mayor Lee be leading the housing charge? Weiner is the wrong guy.

  • thisismyaccount

    Do we live in a civilization with community standards anymore? The Coalition on Homelessness exists to perpetuate itself not actually help homeless people. How are tents cities and the squalor they create a good thing? Compassion for the homeless is nice. Actual results in helping get people off the streets are better.

  • Laurel Denver

    Tim Redmond, you write these bullshit articles, and every time it’s clear: You never leave your mother’s basement to actually go and find out answers, or do actual reporting, before your spout out your idiot questions (“isn’t it better for them to be out of the rain? where’d these tents come from?”). I’m tired of it.

    Do your research. Local churches raised money and bought tents. They have passed out over a hundred. The nuns are down there feeding them under the Caesar Chavez overpass. The police and aid workers are down there constantly, as in all the time, every day, begging and trying to cajole most of the tent people to come get in the loop of city services. THEY REFUSE.

    Yes there are beds. Yes there are services. No, these tent people want no part of it.

    Your whole premise is ludicrous. You need to come down here I live and see what’s going on. We are prisoners in our own homes, unable to walk most of the main streets through our own neighborhoods. It’s a health emergency and a travesty, and Ed Lee is a failure for not solving it. That this is a “bash the homeless” issue, or another attempt to hate on Scott Weiner, is just so wrong on every level.

    This is NOT a homeless problem. This is an “I want to be left alone to be mentally ill and shoot heroin and shit in your driveway and leave used condoms on your doorstep so your teenagers can step over them” problem. These tent folks are not “homeless” they are mostly (not all, but the majority of them by any measure) are mentally ill, physically limited drug addicts and alcoholics.

    ALL of them refuse to be helped by police and city services workers, who are down there constantly trying to “talk them into” getting in to the City’s system. They are refusing. So now, what do you do when they refuse? THIS is the issue here.

    I’m a 30 year resident of the Mission, and very active in the neighborhood. Your articles make me want to stab my eyes out.

    • L_Mariachi

      > The police and aid workers are down there constantly, as in all the time, every day, all hours, begging and trying to cajole most of the tent people to come get in the loop of city services.

      Are they undercover, dressed as other homeless people? Because I walk through those camps daily and have never seen a cop or an aid worker trying to talk anyone into anything. Sometimes they move them across the street so DPW can clean the trash off the sidewalk, and sometimes charitable neighbors pass out blankets and socks, but that’s it.

      > Yes there are beds. Yes there are services. This City can handle a homeless person who wants out of homelessness.

      Citation needed. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

      > We are prisoners in our own homes in most parts of the Mission and Potrero corridors, unable to walk most of the main streets through our own neighborhoods.

      Sounds like you’re a prisoner of your own mind. Maybe you should avail yourself of some of those mental health services that are supposedly going unused.

      • Darf Nader

        >> We are prisoners in our own homes in most parts of the Mission and Potrero corridors, unable to walk most of the main streets through our own neighborhoods.

        >Sounds like you’re a prisoner of your own mind. Maybe you should avail yourself of some of those mental health services that are supposedly going unused.

        Your complete lack of empathy for this person demonstrates that you are programed to only show favor to a certain class of person and to show contempt for the other. You pretty much proved @L_Mariachi:disqus’s point.

  • TS Bell

    This is crazy. This is just like what’s happening in Georgia where it’s a crime to sleep on the streets, feed the homeless, or house the homeless in your personal dwelling. The homeless are being targeted in other states as well. The real issues with how to help them are not being addressed in those places either, and their livelihood is being encroached upon and criminalized. The government is failing these people, and with unemployment on the rise, it will only get worse. However, what is more disturbing to me, is how some citizens are in agreement with these extreme measures of punishment than for actually exhausting every possible effort to minimalize the growing homeless population. It’s not an easy fix. It might cost us some luxuries, but in the end, homeless people are just that: people without a home.

  • Mary949

    As someone who lived at First and Folsom and had homeless people run over at my doorstep, try to break into my house, etc. I have to say that SF has too many homeless people and it never changes. I had to step over them to get to work in the AM. LA is apparently even worse. They have come from all over the USA to pee and poo and lie in filth for at least 4 decades. Sorry, but the pity party is all over. They should be sent back to whence they came. There are hundreds of empty houses in Cleveland, Phoenix, Detroit, etc. etc.

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