A homeless person lies down in San Francisco, Calif. (Courtesy of Bill Morrow via Flickr.)
The rival crowdfunding campaigns that emerged at the end of March in opposition and support of the Navigation Center, the new proposed homeless shelter on Embarcadero, are each closing in on their monetary aspirations, yet the newfound participation has only furthered the innaction surrounding San Francisco’s homelessness crisis.
The problem is so severe that a United Nations report labeled it “cruel and inhumane” and cited it as a human rights violation in September 2018.
“[We] cannot continue to move at our normal pace,” Mayor London Breed said in a press release. “We need to cut the bureaucracy that delays new shelters from being created in order to get our un-housed residents the care and services they need to help them exit homelessness.”
In opposition of the proposed shelter is the GoFundMe account titled “Safe Embarcadero for All,” which argues that the community does care for the homeless, but feels that Breed has put “expediency over safety” in deciding the right location. The anonymous account was created to raise money for a legal counsel, attorney Andrew Zacks, in defense of the proposed location for the center near housing developments, Google’s San Francisco offices and Gap’s headquarters.
A week later, the rival account in support of Breed’s proposition, titled “Safer Embarcadero for All,” was created by William Fitzgerald to exclusively show the support of community members’ efforts toward assisting their unhoused neighbors.
Each have attained more than 95 percent of their target goals of $100,000 and $175,000, respectively.
According to “Safe Embarcadero for All,” the community “fully supports efforts to eliminate homelessness,” but is concerned with a possible increase in drug use and sex-offender traffic, as well as the general cleanliness and health of the area.
Such sentiments illustrate a new standard of our modern civilization: we are more concerned with looking the part than actually being the part.
The opposed GoFundMe account illuminates the behavior and tactics residents use to conceal San Francisco’s grotesque pushed-out, drugged-out, starved-out homeless underbelly, not just from visitors, but from the city itself. Some residents who attended initial meetings feared the proposed center would “create a dirty, dangerous blotch on the housing-dense” area, as mentioned in an SF Chronicle article. These residents are hoping to keep their own homes pristine, while shoving the problem into adjoining neighborhoods that wealthier residents and tourists wouldn’t have to look at.
According to Family Options Study: 3-Year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families, homelessness is largely solvable by simply providing housing. It concludes that families provided with “a permanent subsidy experienced less than half as many episodes of subsequent homelessness,” and that individuals who are offered residency are much less likely to turn to drug abuse and more likely to recover or cope with mental illnesses.
The two campaigns have collectively raised nearly $275,000 in three weeks. Instead of putting that money toward helping solve the homelessness crisis, the wealthy few choose to spend their dollars in a benign cockfight over where a solution should be placed.
Breed’s concerns are valid in that the time to implement solutions is long overdue.
Solutions exist, and a willingness to act is, by and large, the singular obstruction to solving San Francisco’s homelessness and housing crisis.
An earlier version of this story indicated Andrew Zacks as creator of the GoFundMe account “Safe Embarcadero For All,” but the account was created anonymously. Andrew Zacks is actually the attorney the money is being raised for to retain legal counsel. Xpress regrets this error.