California has the highest population of homeless people in the US, 21% of the nation’s homeless population. Worse still, 63.7% of the homeless in California lack shelter against the nation’s average of 31% (Henry, M., et al. 14). Homelessness is one of the most miserable situations which put the homeless into the risk of being victims or suspects in a crime. Additionally, this situation is worse when an individual is homeless in a rich state such as California. San Francisco has some of the highest homeless population in California who live besides rich residents. Although there are various reasons for homelessness, debilitating personal habits and attributes such as alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness are some of the most common cause of this situation (Quigley, J., Rafael, S., and Smolensky, E. 11).
Homelessness in San Francisco
The homelessness situation in San Francisco appears larger than in any other town in the US. Worse still, this situation appears to be worsening. Contrary to this perception, the situation in San Francisco is not as bad as that in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Unfortunately, the size of San Francisco is much smaller than these towns which make the town have the second highest concentration of homeless individuals after New York. Moreover, in San Francisco most homeless live in the streets unlike New York where most of them are housed (Henry, M. et al. 17). In addition to this, the population of the chronic poor among the homeless is twenty five percent in San Francisco and only seven percent in New York.
According to Henry, M., et al. in the report, The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, most of the homeless reside in District six which has headquarters of various companies such as Twitter and Uber. Consequently, the homeless in San Francisco are more visible than those in other towns. Additionally, the homeless individuals in this area are known of their begging culture which annoys the middle class, and the rich who work in tech companies.
Further, most of the homeless persons in San Francisco have a mental illness which makes it difficult for them to increase their income levels. According to a 2013 report by San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey (9), 37% of the homeless suffered from mental illness. Most of the homeless suffered from chronic depression while 22% had schizophrenia or bipolar. Notably, the income disparity in San Francisco is the main cause for the depression of the homeless. In addition to this, the high rental cost in San Francisco is prohibitively too high for the poor to afford (Quigley, J., Rafael, S., and Smolensky, E. 29).
Injustice on the Homeless
Inequality in income distribution is the main injustice among the poor. Among the lower income cadre, the housing prices are usually too high. Consequently, most become homeless. Moreover, this trend started in the 1980s in California, and while the average population of the homeless has reduced in the US. Conversely, the rental prices in California have increased the area’s homeless population. Worse still, this is on the backdrop of static minimum wage rate that can no longer provide the basics for the casual laborious. In light of this, the California government should increase the minimum wage rates so as to ensure that even the low income worker in San Francisco can afford living a decent life.
Additionally, the biased opinion among most individuals that the homeless are criminals is a big injustice to those who engage in genuine productive work. According to the National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty (2), there are less violent crimes committed by homeless people as compared to the non-homeless. Homeless people were arrested for 25% of violent crimes compared to 35% committed by the non-homeless. Unfortunately, the non-homeless have a higher rate at 75% of committing non-violent crimes such as stealing food or pick pocketing while the non-homeless commit only 65% of them. The non-violent crimes by the homeless appear higher than those from individuals with homes. Nonetheless, these are less injurious to the victim. Additionally, crimes such as stealing food are usually due to the need for survival.
Similarly, the regular displacement of the homeless is a great injustice to the homeless. Worse still, in most cases of displacement the law enforcers confiscate the individual’s possession such as their tent and sleeping bag. According to Ali, B. et al. (28) the constant displacement and confiscation of the homeless property, documents and various forms of identification makes them unable to access government benefits such as employment and housing. Additionally, it exposes them to higher chances of getting diseases such as pneumonia. Moreover, despite the police efforts, the homeless simply relocate to another public place or wait for the police to go and return to the same place. Importantly, the San Francisco government should wake up to the reality that the homeless are not in the streets by choice, but due to lack of a better alternative.
Overstrained facilities and the inability to pay rent are the reason for homelessness. San Francisco has only 1210 shelter beds against a population of 6400 homeless and at any given night there are over five hundred individuals on the shelter waiting list and between twenty and one hundred people in the shelters sleep on chair since they cannot access the beds According to Ali, Bracey, Cruz, Johnson, and Rinhardt (30). Consequently, the frequent displacement of the homeless creates significant barriers that prevent them from getting out of poverty that prevent them from getting housing or accessing government services.
Misconceptions and biasness blinded into believing that most homeless individuals were criminals and lazy. However, after conducting a research on the homeless I have changed my opinion on them. Additionally, I have realized that I have a moral duty to advocate for their rights of accessing housing and of having a regular source of income to pay for their basic needs such as rent and food.
Boolen Search Phrases
Homeless + San Francisco
Income levels in US ADD San Francisco
Homelessness and crime + San Francisco
Homeless California ADD San Francisco
Income levels US Add San Francisco + pdf
Video of Homeless
Video: San Francisco Homelessness (Balang, Eric)
Image of a Homeless Resident
Source: Stuart, B.
Conclusively, the homeless people lack a lot of opportunities that the government can progressively address. Generally, most homeless individuals are engaged in a productive income. Consequently, if the San Francisco government increases the minimum wage rates, most of these individuals would afford to rent homes. Additionally, the government can build homes for the homeless which will house all the homeless in the city. Further, the anti-homeless laws violate their rights and lead to the transfer of the social problem of the homeless individuals intruding into private premises from one area to another. Consequently, San Francisco should abolish these laws and seek a permanent solution to this problem.
Ali, B., et al. Punishing the poorest: How the criminalization of the homelessness perpetuates poverty in San Francisco. San Francisco: Coaltition on Homelessness, 2014. Print.
Balang, Eric. “San Francisco Homelessness.” YouTube, 2008.
Henry, M. et al. The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2015.
National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty. Myths and facts about homelessness. National HCH Council, Inc. 2002. Print.
Quigley, J., Rafael, S., and Smolensky, E. Homelessness in California. San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California, 2001. Print.
Stuart, B. “Give people homes to fix homelessness.” Examiner. 2016. Web.