in San Francisco



mess vampire depressing
slum pitch (3) encampment
rent rule (2) residence
shout hang out run around
as hell hell (2) complain
set up plain (2) shoot up (2)
nasty average needle (2)
grab defunct break into
test (2) wannabe Bonnie and Clyde
stroll generous congested
thief content follow (2)
rely tough (2) private (2)
patrol sign (3) bound (2)
peer outreach union (2)
cash masses food stamps
shelter hang out turn it down (2)
mental paranoid follow the rules
get off resident get to the point (2)
hire promise temporarily
unit available human being
former will (3) tenderloin (2)
fund deal (2) homeward
exist fortune cost a fortune
bunch backyard run/ran/run (2)
profit convince non-profit
luck stroll up build/built/built
grimy replace meatpacking
smash property permission
claim project maintenance






City Resident, one: “It’s just a mess; there’s s*** everywhere. It’s just a mess out here.”

Where is the poorest, dirtiest, most depressing slum in the world? In Haiti? India? Africa? Is that what this is?

No. I’m in America. One of the richest parts of America. Highest rents in all of America. This is San Francisco today. Encampments of street people. Everywhere.

Some pitch tents, planning to stay a long time.

Some have mental problems.

Homeless Person, one: “Vampires are real and I’m paranoid as all hell.”

Other street people complain about them.

Homeless Person, two: “They run around and shout at themselves; they make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign.”

Some people shoot up in plain sight.

City Resident, two: “It’s nasty, seeing somebody actually shoot up drugs, like right there.

And the police don’t’ do anything about it: they’ll get somebody for drinking a beer — but they’ll walk right past people using needles.”

Every day in San Francisco, an average of eighty-five (85) cars are broken into.

Journalist: “They’re called ‘smash and grab’.”

Inside Edition left things in a car to test how long they’d last. Not long.

Journalist: “Watch as these Bonnie and Clyde wannabes stroll up and peer inside our car. They wait here for the sidewalk to clear. Then the thief throws up his hood. And smashes the window and steals the contents.”

Since store owners can’t rely on city cops to deal with the masses of homeless, some hire private police to patrol around their stores. Cody Clemens works this neighborhood.

Cody Clemens, Private Police: “A lot of times, somebody who pays for our services calls and says, ‘Hey, there’s a homeless group of people setting up a camp in front of my business or my residence. Can you come and ask them to move’?”

There used to be hundreds of private cops like Cody, but then San Francisco’s police union complained. Now there are fewer than ten left.

Cody offers help to people living on the streets, but most turn it down.

Cody Clemens, Private Police Officer: “Do you need any type of homeless outreach services or anything like that?”
Homeless Person, one: “No, I don’t need that.”

San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets, and seventy-dollars ($70) a month in cash.

Homeless Person, one: “I don’t use any resources, but they’re always offering resources. San Francisco’s just a good place to hang out.”

Like many homeless, these two come from out of town.

Journalist: “Do you like the lifestyle here?”
Homeless Person, one: “Of course, I do!”

Cody Clemens, Private Police Officer: “As you’ve just heard, they love the freedom of not having to follow the rules.”

So the homeless stay on the street, and every day new people arrive. Some residents want the city to get tougher with people living on the streets.

John Dennis, Developer: “It’s getting to the point where they have to make a decision between jail and rehab. And there’s a way we can do that. Other cities do that, but for some reason, San Francisco doesn’t have the political will to.”

San Francisco’s politicians have promised to fix the homeless problem — they’ve promised that for decades.

Willie Brown, Former Mayor of San Francisco (D): “If there’s a problem with housing or homelessness, you have to do something about it.”

“As part of the city’s program, the homeless were to be temporarily housed in hotels.”

Dianne Feinstein, Former San Francisco Mayor: “A thousand units right here in the Tenderloin.”

Gavin Newsom, Former San Francisco Mayor: “We have already moved six-thousand, eight-hundred, sixty (6,860) human beings.”

Mark Farrell, Former San Francisco Mayor: “So we need to fund programs like Homeward Bound.”

But the extra funding hasn’t worked: the number of street people has grown most every year.

One reason is that even if some of these people wanted to get off the street, to rent an apartment, there aren’t many apartments available. Most of San Francisco looks like this: three storey buildings, maybe two apartments per building.

You can’t add onto that. It’s illegal. Because of that, housing that exists costs a fortune.

Journalist: “This doesn’t look like an expensive neighborhood, but these houses sell for millions of dollars?”
Laura Foote: “Millions of dollars.”
Journalist: “What if I come in and I bought this property, and I want to put up an apartment building that would house a bunch of people?”
Laura Foote: “Yeah, too bad.”

Laura Foote’s non-profit runs ads that try to convince residents to allow bigger buildings, to say “YIMBY”, “Yes in my backyard.”

But good luck with that.

Even in liberal San Francisco, people don’t want that.

City Resident, three: “I would hate that.”
City Resident, Four: “I think it’d be really congested.
Journalist: “Where would people live?”
City Resident, Four: “I’m not sure.”

Journalist: “You’re a builder. Go build stuff.”
John Dennis, Builder: “Let me build.”

John Dennis has been trying to replace this grimy old building.
John Dennis, Builder: “This has been a defunct meatpacking plant. It’s been empty for at least fifteen (15) years.”

He wants to turn this into this, which would house sixty (60) people. But it’s taken four years just to get permission to build.

John Dennis, Builder: “And all that time, we’ve been paying property taxes, and we’re paying for maintenance of the building.”

People from San Francisco often claim to be all about helping the poor — but their policies make life tougher for the poor.

Journalist: “What’s your next project in San Francisco?”
John Dennis, Builder: “No more projects in San Francisco. I’m done. I’ll never do another project here.”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



San Francisco. The setting for the report was in the slums of Mumbai. True or false? Is this the poorest city or region of America?

Los Angeles.
Are all homeless people sane and normal? Were they previously sane and normal?

New York City.
Is there something “wrong” with the police force?

Chicago, Illinois.
According to the report, are the homeless innocent victims or do some of them commit crimes?

Austin, Texas.
The San Francisco City police clear business and residential areas of homeless people and bring them to homeless shelters. Is this entirely right, mostly right, yes and no, both, in the middle, largely wrong or totally wrong?

Boston, Massachusetts.
Is the city government completely negligent about the homeless issue? Is homelessness a recent phenomenon in San Francisco?

Miami, Florida.
Housing is cheap, affordable and plentiful in the city. Is this correct or incorrect? Why is it so expensive?

Washington, DC. Are there too many bureaucratic hurdles and red tape? Is the report optimistic or pessimistic about the future?


Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Homelessness exits in my city and country. Yes or no?

New Orleans, Louisiana. Why is there homelessness? Has the situation been changing over the years?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Has homelessness become a major social and political issue?

Cleveland, Ohio.
What might happen in the future?

Seattle, Washington.
How can homelessness be resolved? What should the homeless do? What should others and the government do?

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