San Francisco’s newly minted mayor, London Breed, has a homeless problem that her city seems too paralyzed to deal with. It’s gotten so bad that the homeless have stopped using public toilets and are urinating and defecating right on the sidewalk.
The city has stopped enforcing the law because they don’t want to single out homeless people for crimes. The results have been predictable: city sidewalks are covered with a “dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces,” according to a local TV investigative report.
In an interview with the local NBC affiliate, Breed admitted the problem was out of control. “There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here,” Breed told KNTV. “That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.”
“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” preschool teacher Adelita Orellana told KNTV. “Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”
There are about 7,500 homeless people living in San Francisco according to the city, which will spend nearly $280 million this year on housing services for the homeless.
Breed said San Francisco’s high cost of living cast the city’s homeless onto the streets.
“About 70 percent of the people estimated to be homeless in San Francisco were actually housed in San Francisco before they became homeless,” she said. “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.”
It’s unclear how Breed will hold public defecators accountable. She said Friday that harsher penalties for offenders are not on the table.
So whom does Breed blame for this ghastly situation? The do-gooder homeless advocacy groups:
Instead, she directed her criticism towards homeless advocacy groups, who she said aren’t doing a good enough job teaching their clients how to keep the streets clean.
Huh? Homeless people aren’t being taught to use the toilet?
“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,” she said.
This is not just a homeless crisis. It’s a public health crisis. One hundred twenty five years ago, the streets of San Francisco were covered with horse manure. Even then city officials knew enough to remove the manure to promote a healthier community. Human feces carry numerous diseases. Allowing the waste to pile up on the sidewalks is an invitation for an outbreak of some kind.
I could say something snarky about the situation being a metaphor that describes living in the city, but if you’ve ever seen San Francisco from a safe distance, you know how stunningly beautiful it is. But beneath that beauty is a veneer of rot and filth that makes living there a nightmare from which residents cannot wake up.