I saw this homeless guy the other day, head down, asleep: Wearing 4 jackets but no shoes; a nice-looking backpack to his left, a half-eaten bag of spilt caramel corn in his lap. A few seconds later a panhandler asked me for change, and a few seconds after that, another panhandler.
The scene unfolded in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. were it not for its seamy and exposed underbelly. The homeless problem has plagued the city for years, and city government has not been able to solve – or even slow down – the growth in the homeless population. It is estimated to be over 7,000, the highest per capita in any major American city. Lots of ideas have been tried, even special parking meters to provide change to charitable organizations in lieu of giving money to the homeless; but so far the results have not been good. Most of the San Franciscan homeless are city natives; this is not a problem caused by immigration from cold-climate cities. The lack of affordable housing is one reason but there are many other reasons. This article is a great read about what the city has tried, and what it is trying today.
Funny story: My wife and I were staying at the Parc 55 hotel, just off Union Square in the heart of the tourist area, when around 3 am sirens, honking and generally loud noises emanated from blocks away. We could hear bullhorns in the distance but couldn’t make out what (we assumed were) the cops were saying. A few minutes later they got a lot closer, and it was obvious the police were yelling “Wake up! Get off the street! You’re going to get wet! Wake up! Get out of the way!”
The street sweepers were out, right behind the cops, spraying everything.
No doubt to wash down the smell of urine.