I hear great things about San Francisco from visitors. “Everyone’s so friendly”, “It’s so cool here”. Which it is. But there’s always the one complaint, “There’s so many homeless people here.”
San Francisco has a long history of homeless. During the 1980’s, the City blamed Vietnam and the Drug Culture for the growing number of people on the street. At the same time, President Regan cut funding to Section 8 and public housing in half after systematically closing mental hospitals as Governor of California. The Regan administration continued cuts funding to mental health programs through his presidency.
The homeless in SF is bothersome to some. It makes people feel uncomfortable, and forces people to ignore humanity in others and pretend they’re not there. It’s estimated that 39% person of homeless in the US have some kind of mental illness and 22% have been diagnosed with a chronic condition. So, when someone in my own family began to suffer from serious mental illness, I couldn’t pretend to not see the homeless any more.
I shot this video so that I could really see them in juxtaposition with the consumerism and masses of “normal” people in the Downtown. They are always there. We just never see them.
The city has mainly dealt with them through “sweeps” in which the homeless are displaced, in order to make them less visible.