By James Sword, HANC President
Homelessness is a contentious issue in this city. Many discussions have been done on the subject - none of us want to have people defecate on our street and sleep in our driveways. San Francisco is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and spends $150,000,000 on “homeless issues,” yet fails at reducing homelessness and creating long-term solutions. Every Mayor seems to have his idea about solving homelessness, but this often results in nothing more than a short term clearing of the streets and the criminalization of the poor.
The internationally publicized murders of a young tourist and a massage therapist by three transients have rekindled the debate about homelessness and tolerance in our neighborhood. These three were familiar faces to many in the Haight this last summer. The homeless interviewed after these murders stated that they kept their distance from this pack, who acted “edgy”, and were not seen as part of the Haight Street community. Though some residents felt these three were the rule and not an exception, many of us feel that this was a tragic incident but the homeless should not be homogenized with those three. Knee jerk reactions are rarely viable solutions, and I would hazard a guess that in a couple months Haight will look the same as it did before the murders.