Documenting San Francisco's homeless problem one tweet at a time

On Christmas Day in San Francisco, a 43-year-old woman was stabbed by a homeless man named Michael Jacobs. A second female victim, age 70, was pronounced dead from stab wounds in the same neighborhood hours earlier. Police suspect Jacobs was responsible for her death as well but haven’t proved it yet. Murder (and attempted murder) are extreme examples of problems connected with homelessness but incidents of violence do happen. Just last week I wrote about a business owner who got fed up after one of his employees witnessed a homeless man stomping another man’s head into the sidewalk outside his office in broad daylight. But even apart from the violence, the city is feeling the impact of thousands of homeless people in other ways as well. From CNN:

Outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown San Francisco, a woman urinates on the sidewalk and smokes a crack pipe.

Inside her purse are about a dozen used heroin needles. She shoots heroin up to 10 times per day, she says.

About 50 yards away, a man injects another woman in the neck with a needle. She puts her thumb in her mouth and blows on it to make her vein more visible. Her right arm is caked with dried blood.

This San Francisco neighborhood is home to the headquarters of Uber, Twitter and Salesforce. But stroll around here, and you’re also likely to find used drug paraphernalia, trash, and human excrement on the sidewalks, and people lying in various states of consciousness.

Public drug usage and homelessness are not new problems for the city of San Francisco. But residents say the situation has gotten worse in recent years. As of October, 7,500 complaints about discarded needles have been made this year, compared with 6,363 last year. In 2015, the number was less than 3,000.

The city has a new mayor, London Breed, who campaigned on making homelessness her number one issue. While the number of tent camps is down, it’s still common to see drug needles and human waste on the street, not to mention people sprawled across the sidewalk or, as you’ll see below, in the street. Restaurant owner Adam Mesnick has been using his cell phone camera to document what he sees on the streets in the SoMa area every day. Here are a few of his recent tweets:

Meanwhile, another local resident who chooses to remain anonymous has been tweeting out his (or her) own pictures:

All of the tweets above are from this month. CNN put together this handy graphic showing complaints about poop on the streets. Notice that the 2018 bar in this graph only covers complaints through October.

The city has launched a poop patrol and has a special team cleaning up needles, but as you can see from the images and videos above, the city is a long way to go to make the streets look like something other than an outdoor heroin meth den.