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When the news was announced a year or two ago that San Francisco would start paying to house the homeless in hotel rooms, you pretty much knew how it would turn out. An indeed it has turned out so predictably that even the San Francisco Chronicle has had to acknowledge reality. Start with the subhed:
San Francisco spends millions of dollars to shelter its most vulnerable residents in dilapidated hotels. With little oversight or support, the results are disastrous.
In a complex arrangement, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, or HSH, pays nonprofit groups to provide rooms and aid to formerly homeless people in about 70 single-room-occupancy hotels, known as SROs, which the nonprofits generally lease from private landlords. The buildings are the cornerstone of a $160 million program called permanent supportive housing, which is supposed to help people rebuild their lives after time on the streets.
But because San Francisco leaders have for years neglected the hotels and failed to meaningfully regulate the nonprofits that operate them, many of the buildings — which house roughly 6,000 people — have descended into a pattern of chaos, crime and death, the investigation found. Critically, the homelessness crisis in San Francisco has worsened. . .
At least 166 people fatally overdosed in city-funded hotels in 2020 and 2021 — 14% of all confirmed overdose deaths in San Francisco, though the buildings housed less than 1% of the city’s population. The Chronicle compiled its own database of fatal overdoses, cross-referencing records from the medical examiner’s office with supportive housing SRO addresses, because HSH said it did not comprehensively track overdoses in its buildings.
Residents have threatened to kill staff members, chased them with metal pipes and lit fires inside rooms, incident reports show. At the Henry Hotel on Sixth Street, a tenant was hospitalized after a neighbor, for a second time, streamed bug spray into their eyes, public records show. Last May, less than a mile away at the Winton Hotel, a resident slashed another tenant’s face with a knife, leaving a trail of blood out of the building. Much of the instability stems from a small group of tenants who do not receive the support they need.
There’s a lot more in the full story if you want to take in complete account of the failure of urban liberalism.
This chart that accompanies the story may convey the real lesson of the scene. As I have asked before, with rising budgets for “homeless services,” does anyone think San Francisco’s political class actually wants to reduce homelessness? Expect the budget to double again over the next year or two, and for more homeless to turn up in San Francisco.