Question of the Day

Friday Question of the Day – Is Homelessness Increasing?


Photo by Flickr user sallypics

I always knew that homelessness on the streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area is fairly prevalent but I have recently been going to San Francisco more often and as I walk from Powell to Embarcadero and elsewhere I have never seen so many homeless people in my life. Usually I walk by with no issues but occasionally I feel the need to stay clear for safety. I can only imagine what goes through the minds of tourists as they stroll downtown. I don’t encounter this when I walk through New York. Do you think homelessness is increasing in the Bay Area?

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  • Mel

    I have encountered the same thing lately. When I get off at Embarcadero for work I dodge upwards of four homeless people–and that is in less than a block. And I am not talking those sitting with signs asking for food or money; I am talking about mentally ill, scary and smelly. I try to keep my head down and just push past them but even I am getting worried about the number of unstable mentally ill homeless people I see in less than a block. Two weeks ago one was sitting on a street corner just yelling and screaming as a group of SFPD just watched. I know there isn’t much they can do but I certainly don’t feel safe anymore just walking the short distance that I do. And when you add in the number of homeless people you see on BART daily it seems like the problem has exploded lately. A week ago on BART I dealt with three very smelly homeless people–all of them had some sort of mental issue. They would yell at other passengers and throw stuff. Unsure how to solve the problem. A lot of these people need medication and supervision but that is hard to accomplish given they have no place to call home. I feel bad for being annoyed by them because a lot of them just didn’t have proper support from either family or just spiraled due to depression and drug use, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of these people are dangerous.

    • Steve

      Totally agree. It is getting out of control and will only get worse. The Bay Area is getting to be a place in which not to grow old. Getting dangerous unless you are easily mobile and can escape these encounters.

    • Yikes ahootie

      We had visitors from the UK last week — it was their first visit to the US. They wanted to live like locals, so they took BART/MUNI and walked around SF. They were astounded by the number of “properly mad” people they encountered on public transit. I was embarrassed.

    • Dogbolter

      Yep I’ve had the same experience. The Police don;t want to go near them, so they just let them do whatever they want. Same on Bart, I,m convinced they live on the train and Bart Police also ignore them. Riding Bart is a risky business these days.

  • D

    Yes. Temperate climate is always a draw, underscored by the availability of free basic services offered (food, shelter). There have been numerous posts about the rise in vagrancy in WC, supported by our council and the Trinity center, that frustrate me and many other residents of the town. I cannot be alone in stating I would prefer the council focuses tax dollars on improving infrastructure, schooling and green space at the expense of commercial/apartment expansion and encouraging the homeless to migrate here.

  • D

    The picture for your story could easily be outside Trader Joes on N California in WC

  • Joel Villasenor

    The entire Bay Area has seen an increase in homelessness and that’s being reflected now in WC. I see many people in need of help and services, by the Trader Joes, CVS, all over downtown. I don’t know how much funding CCC is putting towards shelters and resources, but as long as housing/rental prices continue to outpace income (lack of below market rate housing) expect to see more.

    • Dogbolter

      I don’t think housing prices are the issue. These people don’t want a home.

  • Gina Romantica

    I would say in the last year we have more than I have seen in thirty years living here. SF was always completely full but now it has moved into Oakland and all parts of the East Bay. In a one block area I regularly see at least ten people if not more.

  • ClaironCrumpet

    I think it’s a combination of it becoming both more prevalent and more visible. Many of the empty lots that once housed encampments are now prime real estate under active construction, leaving no place discrete for the homeless that were already there; and the statistics say that homelessness in the area is at record highs, on top of that. The issue is becoming prevalent even in some of the suburbs covered by this blog, which I’m still surprised to see.

  • Hello From

    I absolutely think homelessness is on the rise everywhere. We traveled to Southern California and were particularly stunned at the homelessness in the beach communities. Here in Northern California, underpasses sometimes have huge encampments. We are constantly panned handled where ever we walk. Most stressful is the mental ill on the streets, and how the public is conditioned to just walk around them as if they are invisible.

  • AJ Buttacavoli

    Homelessness in America is a national tragedy and a perfect example of the failure of government to solve an urgent problem. Los Angeles and Hawaii have already declared homelessness in their areas an emergency but until the governors of all the states petition the federal government the problem will not go away.