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The "Compassionate", "Sanctuary City" has a
tarnished image with the homeless.
Reporting on something as subjective as compassion in regards to your home city
can be plagued with conflicts: I've lived in San Francisco for nearly 41 years
- years spanning decadence, disasters, riots and the age of AIDS*. Through all,
I've loved the City and (most of) its inhabitants and thought it the most
compassionate city in the world. Through those years, it concentrated on social
issues other cities found too difficult to deal with. It's open-armed, liberal
policies lit the way for a better "quality of life." But one issue -
homelessness - always seemed to fall through the cracks of its compassion.
According to Mercer Investment Services, San Francisco was named 27th in Quality of Living in the world. Quality of living for people who can afford to invest, that is.
"Quality of Living" certainly depends on what end of the economic spectrum you are. To others less fortunate, San Francisco is downright mean in terms of basic survival:
Here's a little news to dampen your day: our city is downright mean. So says the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in a new report called "Homes Not Handcuffs" that tracks the criminalization of homeless people in 273 cities around the country.
The Past 40 Years In Terms Of Compassion
As a 40-year denizen of the City By The Bay, I have seen compassion come in waves - very powerful waves, to be sure, but waves leaving the some (like the homeless) high and dry during long stretches of time. If a graph of compassion were to be created, it would have to measure the decadent 70s to the Age of AIDS in the 80s and early 90s. Then it would take a dip during the dotcom bust, only to rebound as a "Sanctuary City" for immigrants:
Earlier today, San Francisco's Health Director announced that some
500 Central American refugee
kids would make San Francisco their home by next year.
And we plan on welcoming each one of them under the city's Sanctuary City program, which creates a safe haven for illegal immigrants. They'll get access to health care, schools, and other city services.
But during that whole time, the situation for
the homeless worsened, creating a blight on the City's public squares.
New Cure For Homelessness: Water Torture