Although it’s been called the “most expensive city in the U.S.”, San Francisco homeowners are challenged with an issue more prevalent than just the neighborhoods steep price tag — homelessness.
According to a recent study by the California Budget Center, the city ranks first in California for economic inequality. With the average household income of the top 1% ($3.6 million) reaching 44 times that of the bottom 99% ($81,094), it’s clear that there is a serious housing and wealth disparity in the city.
While San Francisco is known for its free-thinking, diverse, and innovative culture, the city has long struggled with the issue of homelessness despite spending upwards of $240 million every year to tackle it. Moreover, it is estimated that the 1,600 chronically homeless people cost the approximately $80,000 each per year, with the number rising to $150,000 for the 338 considered “most needy” in the public health database.
The irony of the situation lies in the fact that while San Francisco is deemed as being a progressive, welcoming, and moderately warm city this also means that that there continues to be a large influx of homeless people to the city each year. Which, in turn, poses major challenges to both policy makers and residents who are already battling with the cities extremely expensive housing market.
In order to tackle the issue of homelessness in San Francisco and create serious change, policy makers need to look at the issue from both the homeowner and humanitarian perspective.
On the one hand, while it is understandable that homeowners are becoming increasingly frustrated with the issues, lawmakers cannot solely listen to residents complaining about having old mattresses lying outside their $4 million dollar walkup. Similarly, increasing budgets for welfare and rehabilitation programs will not be beneficial if there is not the infrastructure and culture to do so.
Maybe what the city really needs is a change of mindset — in both how people and policy makers view and understand the issue of homelessness?
It is not as simple as just ‘creating housing and offering programs’… it will take an entire community.