For the majority of my adult life, I have lived in urban areas. Urban areas give you access to great coffee, diversity, food at 3 am, and Lyft. But…sadly…urban areas also bring homelessness.
As harsh as it may sound,the Bay Area in my opinion has the worst homeless population. Homeless people in New York are a lot nicer. I know our weather is bearable for the majority of the year, so it’s ideal for street living.
In San Francisco, walking from your workplace to public transit, probably will consist of homeless people hollering at you for money. Not asking, but hollering. Everyone of my friends has a horror story of an encounter with a homeless person. They invade your personal space and make you feel uncomfortable.
We don’t want to look away, but it gets to be too much especially if there are numerous people on every corner. When they make a mess of your neighborhood and set up a camp, the thoughts that run through my mind are the following.
- “If you I give you money, will you ask for more?”
- “Are you really homeless?”
- “Will you stab me if I don’t give you money?”
- “I worked hard for my money, why should I give it to you?”
- “I volunteer and give back to my community, how much of me is expected to be given?”
The homeless population is a mixed bag. You have people with severe addictions who cannot help themselves. Many are mentally ill. You have the elderly. You have people who were born into poverty and don’t know any better way forward. You have some elitist kids trying to find themselves on the streets (this is the group that annoys me the most…seriously?kid go home!), and kids who are running away from abuse.
When confronted by homeless people you may feel guilty, anger, shame, and annoyance. Trust me, we (my friends and I) want to feel sympathy and empathy but when you are working your ass off to pay the Bay Area rent and lifestyle and you have people bothering you everyday for a dollar, it can get annoying.
Some groups are too sympathetic to the homeless and enable them. For example, it used to be required for homeless people with addiction problems to bring dirty needles into needle exchange clinics in order to get a clean one. This is so they can keep using without the risk of STIs or other diseases. But then some genius said, that was too much for them. Oh yes, because they have a job to go to, so they can just come in without a dirty needle and receive a clean one without any accountability. What happened? More dirty, and dangerous needles were left on the city streets. The streets we all use.
Some groups, however, are too harsh. In San Francisco, tent camping on city streets was restricted. In the middle of winter while it’s raining, they are not allowed to have tents. Seriously where is the humanity in that?
Now there is talk of making tiny homes for the homeless. But alas, who wants to buy or own property near a tiny home camp for the homeless?
I wish I could end this piece with some tips and suggestions. But I am at a loss here. What is Bay Area homeless problem that is at crisis levels?
Hugs and Smiles,