“Rise in gay homeless people threatens San Francisco’s name as gay-friendly mecca — It’s built a reputation as the most gay-friendly city on earth. But the mask is slipping.” In other words, the London Independent discovers that San Francisco has teensy-tiny homeless problem:
Of the 6,436 people the SF-HSA counted sleeping rough in the city, more than half of those do not stay in shelters. Earlier this month, the city authorities finally began steps to set up San Francisco’s first shelter for LGBT homeless, large numbers of whom have mental health issues. Some of San Francisco’s gay rough sleepers are young people from other parts of America or the world who have fled violence and discrimination at home in search of safety in San Francisco. Others are elderly survivors of the worst ravages of the Aids epidemic who now find themselves unable to cope financially in a city where rents have been driven sky high by gentrification and the booming economy of nearby Silicon Valley. They end up living in doorways and parking lots.
Against the backdrop of the San Francisco City Hall cupola, hundreds line up each Tuesday afternoon in the United Nations Plaza for free food handouts from volunteers. For several blocks in all directions from the city hall, tourists find themselves stepping over prone bodies on the pavement.
The San Francisco Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, is home to an estimated 220,000 millionaires, not to mention Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar, investor Charles Schwab and Star Wars creator George Lucas. It is a shock to visitors to find that a city of stunning natural and architectural beauty, famed for its tolerance and future thinkers and flooded with internet wealth, should also be home to such chronic poverty.
It’s happened ever-so-“unexpexectedly,” to use the favorite adverb of those innocent naifs who do the economic reporting at Bloomberg.com. What on earth ould be the cause? The SF Weekly accidentally stumbled over the reason in 2009:
“Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, [San Francisco’s] homeless problem is worse than any comparable city’s.”
Fox Butterfield, is that you?
Of course, the London Independent is the newspaper that sagely warned its readers that “Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past” in 2000, so perhaps we should cut them a bit slack here.