Homelessness in San Francisco Essay

Homelessness describes a situation in which people lack a fixed dwelling place. A homeless individual is a person without a fixed and regular nighttime residence (Baumohl 1). Shelter is one of the most basic needs, yet many people lack this basic necessity. Homelessness in San Francisco has continued to be an issue of concern to government officials and social service providers. In the United States (U.S), approximately 1% of the population (3.3 million people) faces homelessness in a period of one year. In San Francisco, the number of homeless people is estimated to be between7, 000-15,000 (Noy 1). This estimate is the highest in the major American cities thus making San Francisco to have the highest number of homeless people   (Noy 1).

Homelessness is much visible in down town San Francisco than in other major American cities. In many cities across U.S, the police have driven homeless people to places where they are not in sight of many people (Tyler 1). For example, in Sarasota it was reported that the police has the practice of removing homeless individuals from bus stations even if they have legitimate travel plans. For example,two homeless men were reported to have been kicked out of a bus station even after showing their tickets to the police (Tyler 1).

This essay will focus on discussing ways in which the issue of homelessness in San Francisco can be decreased and, as a result, strengthen the economy of San Francisco.

To begin with, there are some causes of Homelessness in San Francisco,the main cause of homelessness in San Francisco is the lack of affordable houses. High-housing prices in San Francisco are due to competition in the housing market and limited space (Baumohl 1). Once an individual becomes homeless it is difficult for the person to get his/her life back because if the person has lost a job, phone number, credit history and references, then it would be difficult for the person to rent an apartment in Francisco since landlords require such information before they rent out their apartments. The city of San Francisco has been trying to provide affordable houses, but housing is not yet affordable to all.  Other causes of homelessness in San Francisco include domestic violence, prisoner release and unemployment (Baumohl 1).

Though the U.S government has policies to decrease homelessness, it has contributed to the state of homelessness in San Francisco and among other major cities across the United States. It is ironic that the U.S government and its citizens are the creator as well as the victims of the issue of homelessness. The government cause homelessness in the form of lack of health care and forced eviction from houses (Tyler 1). In the recent times, natural disasters are another cause of homelessness. Gulf Coast storms and Hurricane Katrina have worsened the situation of America’s homeless population (Reskin 12).

If we look at thecondition of homelessness in San Francisco, there is a problem of homelessness in down town San Francisco and in the neighborhoods near the Great Highway. People are living in cars, vans, campers and on the streets. The police around the city of San Francisco are aware of the situation. There is a law in San Francisco which forbid people to sleep in vehicles between 10P.m to 6 a.m. (Tyler 1).  In parking lots across San Francisco, there is parking control warning that indicate that it is illegal to park in one spot for more than 72 hours (Tyler 1). To avoid violating the law, the homeless only move several blocks away park till when given another notice.

There also someproblems faced by homeless individuals that homeless people are confronted with traumatic and stressful events, which result in, high incidences of mental disorders. Despite their conditions about one-third of the individuals receive professional help (Hausman 8). Homeless individuals are poor and thus are unable to meet their need for health care. About one third of the homeless people experience mental health disorders due to substance use. Homeless people lack basic needs like clothing and food and are at greater risk for lead poisoning and asthma.

Homelessness causes serious health problems such as malnutrition, AIDS, severe dental problems and tuberculosis. People without shelter are more likely to be preys to frostbite, infections, parasites and violence (Hausman 8). Since homeless people lack access to healthcare, the government should ensure that they receive free health care through taxpayer support. The homeless people have less access to education, are seen unsuitable for employment, have reduced access to communications technology and have reduced access to banking services (Hausman 9).


There is also the presence of places that are successfully decreasing homelessness in their area. Even the working families are at a high rate facing homelessness due to the rising unemployment and the crippled economy. Despite the negative change in the economy and high rate of unemployment, many major cities across the U.S are successfully decreasing the rate of homelessness in their area.  For example, in Los Angeles, the rate of homelessness has decreased by 36% while in San Francisco; the rate has dropped by 37% (Laura 2). The number of families experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles has decreased by 58% while in San Francisco, the number decreased by 21% (Laura 2).

In the recent past, cities in Texas and California reflect high willingness to turn the system of criminal justice to respond to individuals living in public places. Many cities are dealing with the issue of homelessness. According to Michael Stoops, the acting homeless coalition executive director, there is now an open war on the population of the homeless (Stoops 1).  Despite the high rates of homelessness in San Francisco, the rate is dropping. For example, in 2002, there was approximately 8, 640 homeless people in San Francisco. This year, the number has dropped to 37% since the count of homeless people is now 5,404 (Tyler 1). The homeless population in the down street of San Francisco, which is a, turn off to tourists, has declined by 41%. The decline of homelessness in San Francisco is as a result of moving the homeless people into shelters. (Tyler 1). The number of sheltered people in New York has dropped from 39,000 to 32,000.  To help decrease the rate of homeless people, San Diego has built apartments so as to keep homeless off the streets (Stoops 1).

Decreasing the rate of homeless people require the participation and contribution of the entire city. The city of San Francisco has not been able to deal effectively with the issue of homelessness. Each year, more than 5,000 people in San Francisco faces life without a home and, therefore, live in parks, shelters and vehicles (Kallerberg 1). The city has not developed a positive cohesive homeless policy with appropriate goals and support.  For San Francisco to decrease the rate of homelessness, it has to adopt and implement programs and policies that focus on preventing homelessness.

In order to decrease the rate of homelessness and strengthen the economy in San Francisco, people should raise funds to focus on counseling and job assistance rather than just building more shelters.

To decrease the rate of unemployment in San Francisco, the homeless people should be assisted to have jobs. There is a relationship between homelessness and unemployment. Low wages and unemployment have an impact on homelessness. The recent reports on low unemployment and deterioration in the economy are a reason why the issue of homelessness still persists. Homelessness is now more prevalent than ever due to the present economic crisis which is historic. In the past years, there has been growth in wages, but in the past months, wage growth has decreased. The recession has affected all people and as a result foreclosures have caused homelessness (Hammen 1).

Since providing the homeless with jobs will decrease the rate of homelessness, San Francisco City should design and implement programs that will help homeless individuals to obtain and preserve employment (Baumohl 1). It is evident that wages and incomes received by homeless people as a result of gaining employment would help meet some of the essential needs like shelter, food and clothing. Programs that focus on homeless populations would help decrease the social issue of homeliness. To be able to provide jobs and offer counseling sessions to the homeless, San Francisco City should design and implement a variety of funded programs so as to assist the homeless. The programs developed   to assist the homeless should be developed in a way in which it meets other concerns like health care and housing. Homeless adults and youths with low-skills can be trained so as to have access to jobs (Baumohl 1). 

Decreasing the rate of unemployment in San Francisco by offering counseling and jobs to the homeless people would have a positive impact to the economy of San Francisco.  Economic displacement is one of the reasons why people face homelessness. Since the donors from Wall Street no longer have much money to donate due to the down turn in the economy, people should be trained entrepreneurial skills (Laura 1). Providing people with a decent income will prevent the recent state of house foreclosures.

Since we live in a culture that is inconsiderate to people who have failed in establishing a social and financial stability, the world can seem hostile, cruel and empty to the homeless people. To decrease the rate of homelessness, offering counseling to the homeless people will help decrease the rate of homelessness. Since homelessness is an intractable and pervasive problem, that leaves emotional scars, counselors can help homeless people accept their situations and, as a result, look for solutions to the issue (Reskin 3). A homeless life causes stress and high levels of anxiety and low self esteem. Counseling will help the homeless people to cope with their situation and empower them to look for jobs.

According to Reuters, many families in the United States are flooding the homeless shelters. Others are staying with relatives and friends and camping in motels as a result of foreclosures (Hausman 3). As a result of foreclosures and lack of affordable housing, many people are experiencing homelessness. Building more shelters is not the ideal way to deal with homelessness because it does not provide a permanent solution. San Francisco has more than 50 homeless shelters and more shelters are coming up. Money donated to shelters should no longer be used to build shelters; instead, the money can be used to provide counseling and jobs to the homeless people. To decrease the rate of homelessness, the city of Francisco should provide the homeless with employment counseling; provide job search assistance and substance abuse counseling. Homeless people should also be helped to design a personal strategy that will help them to overcome homelessness (Hausman 1).

To end the issue of homelessness, there is a need to close the gap between the costs of housing and incomes. It is therefore necessary for people to have access to jobs that will help them attain living wages. Private, labor and government sectors should ensure that all people with the ability to work have opportunities to obtain jobs that would help them meet all their living needs. The city of San Francisco should come up with more affordable housing and make sure that all people have access to healthcare and sustenance and warm shelter.

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