Gene Gorelik, a property developer in Oakland and an aggressive critic of the homeless, recently suggested luring the thousands of homeless people in the San Francisco Bay Area onto party buses stocked with alcohol and sending them on a one-way trip to Mexico. “Refugee camps in Syria are cleaner than this,” he said in an interview at a fast-food restaurant in Oakland that overlooks a homeless encampment.

Homelessness is an expanding crisis that comes amid skyrocketing housing prices, a widening gap between the rich and poor and the persistent presence on city streets of the mentally ill and drug-dependent despite billions of dollars spent to help them.

Although rarely as coarsely as Mr. Gorelik — who made headlines recently when he tried to shower a homeless encampment in Oakland with dollar bills to persuade those living in tents to move elsewhere — residents say they have found themselves weighing concerns for the less fortunate against disruptions to their own quality of life.