For over 50 years now, San Francisco has been the hub of the hippie movement and the headquarters for the ultra-liberal movement. Democrats have flocked there and driven real estate prices through the roof. Along with their new money and tech came a massive flow of drugs, and the homeless that came along with them. Trying a new tactic in the war on drugs, the city started accepting and handing things out to the drug addicts of the city.
One of those handouts has come in the form of city-ran treatment centers. Yet despite their availability and prevalence, addicts say they cannot quit. Some claim it is pointless to get clean when you’re still going to be homeless, others say they are open to it but have yet to go and actively seek treatment.
As covered in the San Francisco Standard (SFS), a homeless man they interviewed was sitting on the curb next to a dose of fentanyl and was staring at a treatment center just across the street. After telling him how close he was to help, he reportedly said he wanted the help, then thought again and stumbled off to try and get a beer from the corner liquor store. Another lady who identified herself as Maycie Stamps also talked to them about getting clean and what the problems were for her.
“Why am I going to get clean when I’m homeless. Drugs are helping me not to go crazy.” When asked about why not, she said, “It’s a lot about getting there. If I take the bus, I may end up seeing someone I know and end up f*cking around.” Her sentiments have been echoed by the homeless for years. It’s an endless loop that has unattractive solutions for the problem.
One of the primary solutions has been to relocate the homeless to run-down or desolate towns that need the influx of new people. Rehab centers can help them get clean without the big city pushers or associations they had back home. The problem is that these centers already exist, are very expensive, and are not welcomed by many communities.
So stuck with them, San Francisco’s last one-night headcount of homeless back in 2022 counted a total of 3,400 people staying in homeless shelters, 4,400 on the street, and an estimated a total of 20,000 people were homeless across the entire year. As published in the SFS, homelessness is down 3.5% since 2019. While a great improvement, they are still 13% higher than they were in 2017.
These kinds of numbers are reflective of just how unaffordable and uncomfortable living in San Francisco has become. With real estate prices that make Beverly Hills, Manhattan, and South Beach seem reasonable, the city has simply outpriced too many of its long-term residents. In turn, they become homeless. When you’re down and out that badly, the idea of a pick-me-up sounds really good, even if it’s addictive and destructive. Suddenly, they become the very bums they used to pass by. Addiction has them in its grips, and it won’t let go easily.
When COVID hit and the whole world shifted, the San Francisco homeless population saw the number of deaths it experienced not only increase but double. The vast majority of these deaths were from drug overdoses, thus proving the level of dependency and dedication to the drug they are stuck in.
Yet, it all boils down to choices.
From the choice to have that first line, spike that first syringe, or pop that first pill; to the choice of ignoring the bum, treating the addict, or contributing to the plight of the junkie. This part of personal responsibility is something too many shake off, and San Francisco is a major proponent of that mindset. Now that we see the results of it, it all makes sense in the saddest of ways.