We’ve covered quite a few stories here this year focusing on the exploding homelessness problem in California and particularly in the city of San Francisco. The number of homeless there is staggering and steadily increasing. This has led to a proliferation of crises involving drug abuse, mental health issues, crime and filth in the streets.
A number of proposals have been put forward to address the problem. These have included setting aside parking lots for the homeless who have cars to live in. They’ve also sent out cleaning crews to take care of human waste on the streets and sidewalks. All have met with mixed results at best. But recently, a group of homeowners in one of the neighborhoods that have been overrun with homeless encampments decided to stop waiting for the government and take matters into their own hands Their solution? They paid to have giant stone boulders brought in and dumped on the sidewalks where the homeless were camping. (Associated Press)
A group of San Francisco neighbors said they had to do something to make their street safe. Their answer? Some giant rocks.
Fed up with what they see as the city’s failure to combat homelessness and rampant drug use, the neighbors had boulders delivered to their sidewalk to block people from pitching tents on their street.
That started a fight that shows the frustration with an unprecedented homelessness crisis in California. Cities are struggling to address the lack of affordable housing and a growing number of homeless encampments that are popping up on city streets, sometimes in neighborhoods.
Well, that was clearly an innovative, if not particularly practical solution. With giant boulders blocking the sidewalks and alleys, the homeless couldn’t camp there, right?
Turns out that the best-laid plans of mice and men (and women) of San Francisco still tend to go awry. Despite the fact that it required heavy construction equipment to bring the stones in and place them, the homeless were able to team up and push them out into the streets. The result was that the homeless were back camping and now the neighbors couldn’t get their cars in and out.
The construction crews were brought back to move the stones back onto the sidewalk, but the homeless simply rolled them back into the road again. Finally, the city stepped in and removed the boulders to a storage facility while a better solution was sought. In the meantime, nothing has changed.
That may sound like a heartless approach by the homeowners, but you should click through and read some of their stories. People were being menaced and they grew afraid to go back and forth from work alone. Drug dealers were hiding weapons and “products” in the window planters outside some of the homes. The situation simply wasn’t safe.
Aside from the President’s proposal to repurpose some empty federal buildings for new temporary housing, I’m not sure what else they can try. And even that is only a stopgap measure. Once the word gets out that there’s free housing available, more homeless will swarm to the area and overrun the available beds. Clearly the only real solution is to tackle the cause of homelessness and stop so many people from becoming displaced. How that’s accomplished is a mystery to me, however. But I didn’t run to be an elected official in San Francisco. They need to find a solution or make way for someone who will.