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Christine Mai-Duc, a political reporter and foodie from Sacramento, got lost on her first walk through the Mission-not only in the barrio's backstreets but also in its cultural fabric. It landed her on the porch of those elusive Mission locals who know Philz- the man instead of just the coffee landmark.

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23 Comments

  1. What about the aggressive vagrants that get in your face outside of your own home? You know when you get off work between 5-8pm. There are plenty of homeless people soliciting outside apartment buildings that are abusive and shouldn’t have a place to wallow outside my residence all night with loud boomboxes and no respect for the neighborhoods that they are in. Sit/Lie is a win in my book.

  2. I know that if they go to the Salvation Army, and say, “I want to be off drugs and lead a normal life” they could. Instead, they’d rather sit on the sidewalk, drink some malt liquor, and piss themselves.

    Do they want to find a better place to sit, i.e. in a living room, in a chair doing work in some office? Hmm, not sure,

    This isn’t criminalizing homelessness, especially since some of these people aren’t homeless, and some, especially in the Haight don’t need to be homeless, except by their own choice, then I don’t see the criminalization.

    C’mon, this has very little about ‘homelessness’, this has to do with that part of our society that would rather do nothing for their own health and progress.

    Any time anything is said about changing the way that the ‘homeless’ (definitely in quotes) make their way through life, is about criminalizing that lifestyle. But peeing in the street, being drunk, being belligerent, that is what this is about, and all of those things ARE criminal behaviour.

    Cry me a river guy that says “no one listens to us”, as I have to listen to you beg for you next swig, your next hit, and then see you the next day as sloppy as you were before. If you don’t like the way you are being treated, take a look at yourself, and wonder why you get the reaction that you do.

  3. well, as a mission native, yes native, born, raised, and current resident, there has been some instances where homeless people have caused this law to be; the people in the video sitting in front of the police station :protesting” the people are laughable at best; it does not really capture what the people who live in the mission have to say; and if you are complaining about how your building is or isn’t; grow a pair and complain; and really, there is housing for homeless; no it will not have a deck; nor be cable ready; nor have all the amenities that a “perfect” home will be; yes we have our mental health issues; but who doesn’t; something’s got to give; and to start this compassionate BS; then open your home with your children during the day to have a place for ‘homeless’ people to sit and lie about not having a decent place to live; SRO’s do you know what they are; how dare you make a point about this law when there is people LIVING in conditions that a 3rd world country would laugh at; really? I mean de verdad? Or is it all a smoke screen and we are really wasting each others time…

  4. Chris, aggressive panhandling is already illegal. If you’re being aggressively panhandled, chances are the person doing it is neither sitting nor lying. To the others, if people could overcome addictions with a snap of the fingers, they wouldn’t be addictions, they would just be bad habits. People do recover from addiction and severe mental illness, but it takes time, and repeated failure is part of the process. You fail as many times as it takes until you succeed–like many other things in life. You have no idea the barriers to housing–internal and external–that people face. We have a whole set of policies in place, from draconian drug laws, to public housing policies that essentially make evictees permanently homeless, that stand in the way. Then we put people into buildings where drug dealers knock on the doors all night trying to get you to buy drugs. These are collections of people whose mental illnesses often don’t mesh with each other at all. Then when they “fail” in housing, we send them back to the streets with less stability and less chance at housing than they had before. After years of work in the streets as a paramedic and then a physician in a homeless program, I have no idea what the magic formula is. You just do the next indicated thing for the people you’re trying to help. When you’re a doctor or a nurse or a paramedic, that’s the gig. You relish the successes, and know that the general public will never see those. They will only see the (hopefully temporary) failures. One thing I’m sure of, though, is that never letting people sit or lie down, and having the police constantly harass them, isn’t helpful. If it were that easy, we’d never have gotten here in the first place.

  5. Oh well!! San Francisco residents have spoken! If the “homeless” don’t like it, go somewhere else! SF should stop pandering to the homeless and start cleaning up the streets.

  6. pdquick — I don’t care what the magic formula is. I’m a taxpayer. I want clean streets. That’s not an unreasonable expectation. Stubborn addicts are not our problem, and anything that makes life in SF just a little bit less desirable to them is a win in my book.

  7. Really? If people want to help themselves then let them rise above. if no then why do we push to help? Sink or swim? If you want to help the tragic messes then take them in and let society work with the people that actually want to rise up. Let the rest sink like the messes that they are.

  8. How about interviewing the rest of the 75% of SF tax-paying-home-owners/residents voters who voted in favor of no sit/lie?

    The law isn’t meant to fix the problem, it’s meant to curb aggressive homeless people. The bottom line is, we’re sick of it. It’s no longer 1970 in the Haight — get a job and move on with your life, here is a kick in the ass.

  9. For the people that were protesting, I wonder just how much do THEY know about homelessness or panhandling. And why aren’t they protesting in the Tenderloin, right down Hyde and Eddy (on the corner of the playground)? If you’re going to protest, do it right, don’t have a picnic in The Mission.
    I am part of that 75% that go to work to find someone sleeping on my corner, it’s not ok! It’s not ok for anyone to sit, smoke crack, and veg on my block, while children and parents walk in the mornings or in the afternoon. It’s NOT OK! I’m glad we’re taking our streets back, it’s about time!

  10. The notion that the homeless are living a “lifestyle” — which they could choose to stop living at the snap of their fingers — is truly ludicrous.

    If you want to see fewer homeless people, why deal with the problem at a superficial level? Why not attempt to attack the underlying causes that have helped it proliferate in the U.S. in the first place? Reinvest in mental health services, including institutionalization for those who need it; return housing subsidies to 1980s levels, at the least, before Reagan cut them; invest in large-scale treatment programs for drug addicts. Much of this would need to occur at a national level, but local equivalents could be devised.

    Oh, that’s right: business owners and wealthy San Franciscans don’t want to pay more taxes! How will they pay for their Tahoe ski vacation if they have to pay more taxes? You wouldn’t want to inflict such suffering on them! You’d rather have the garbageman sweep up the unsightly blights on your block so you can walk down the street without having to think about all the bad stuff happening in your country. That’s why you have to convince yourself that homelessness is a “choice,” a “lifestyle,” a “decision,” easily reversed, and that the homeless already have a vast and generous infrastructure of support.

    If only they’d choose to make use of it! If only we give them the right “incentives” to take advantage of our brilliantly successful welfare state!

  11. Lee,

    I agree, people aren’t out on the street by choice — you have to be mentally sick to be living that “lifestyle”.

    Don’t tell me people who can’t afford renting at $2000 a month choose to live the on the streets as an alternative. People don’t love the city enough to choose homelessness as a new lifestyle. Those people get priced out, and they move to the suburbs.

    Here is the problem with social problems: they don’t work. We’ve tried them for years, spent bucket loads on them, and they haven’t work. How many times do you try and teach and old dog new tricks before you give up?

  12. Speaking as someone whose mother was briefly homeless and living on the streets, I can say that very very few people would choose to live on the streets if they had anywhere better to go (or were in their right mind enough to see other options).

    That said, it’s not illegal to be homeless. People have a right to NOT have housing. With that in mind, making laws that make it virtually impossible to be homeless without constantly being ticketed/arrested is just as wrong as making tons of laws that infringe on someone’s right to be black/Jewish/handicapped/whathaveyou.

    Even more relevantly for all those taxpayers who are disgusted by the sight of the poor on their way to work: Ticketing/arresting people for sitting or lying on the street solves absolutely NOTHING. All it does is eat up more tax dollars by wasting police/court/jail time going after people that have no money to pay their fees. It makes criminals out of people who we supposedly want to encourage to get jobs and become productive citizens. But…once you’re a criminal, it’s not only harder to get a job, it’s harder to get a lot of basic services that help people who CAN’T get a job.

    The ridiculous thing about sit/lie–and the reason why I’m disgusted that it passed–is that not only is it wasteful and pointless, it’s also REDUNDANT. It is already illegal to: loiter, smoke crack, drink alcohol in public, harrass people, etc. In every single example I’ve been given about when sit/lie needed to be in place, SOMETHING ELSE ILLEGAL WAS ALREADY HAPPENING. At any point in the past, when you were offended by someone on the street, 99.99999% of those times, you could have called the cops and reported them.

  13. As a property owner and city resident why does
    my quality of life diminish so that other people can pee in my doorway, take a dump in yard hassle me for change etc etc. I have automatic deductions for meals on wheels, Salvation Army, Project Aids and give a lot
    to other charities. I also look at SF yearly
    budget and am floored at the amount of money
    we spend on homeless, SF general, poor people etc. I do not mind helping the person
    below me but I’ll be damn if there going to tell me how much to give and piss in my face.
    I think a lot of people are Feed up with the
    free loaders. That is why it passed by a BIG
    margin. Wake up and smell the roses.

  14. I grew up here in the Mission. Our neighborhood took the brunt of the homeless population in the 90’s. Overwhelmed our system, hurt business’s, people moved out, syringes in all our public parks. Hep C ran rampant. We made it easy for people to come here, we enabled them to stay homeless, giving food, money, clothes. Not enough money for shelters. I’m glad were are trying a tough love approach as I see it. What we have done has not worked. Only folks that have been here for at least 25 years know what I’m talking about.

  15. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments and for continuing the conversation on this issue. We are not looking to value one side of the debate over any of the others, but we were looking to talk to a group of people who aren’t often heard in the community, the people we thought would be impacted most directly. We had hoped to cover an aspect of sit/lie that hadn’t been done already in other publications, and we hadn’t seen this angle reported widely by the other outlets. We hope to continue following all sides of this issue as further plans are made for implementation. Thanks again and we hope you all continue the discussion,

    Christine

  16. Hey!
    This was a very well done news story – I very rarely have seen coverage that has asked the people who would be impacted what they thought – and I applaud you for that.

    There are a lot of comments by people who don’t seem to have a engaged knowledge of how homelessness works. If you went to Salvation Army and said “I want to lead a “normal life” and be sober” – no they wouldn’t be able to help you most likely.

    I work at a clinic for people who are transiently housed or homeless. Many of them are sober, many of them want to live inside and work. It isn’t that easy though. Shelters are an unsafe environment for most people and SRO’s aren’t as easy to get placement in as you would think. To get a job in order to make income to have housing you need to have somewhere to bathe, a phone number, an email address, job skills, stability and documentation of all of that. Criminalization of homelessness further reinforces that cycle, as on top of all of the other disadvantages you now have a criminal record. And in case you hadn’t heard it’s not easy to get a job these days.

    I feel like people are misinformed about social services these days. My job is primarily about HIV/AIDS but homelessness is what I end up talking with clients about most days. I am totally unable to help most of them. There is a giant lack of organizations to assist people in getting housed.

    I see that people feel attacked or overwhelmed by homeless people in their neighborhoods. I would ask that you have compassion. Is the inconvenience you feel about saying no to someone asking for change or sitting outside really so much that you think they should be jailed?

  17. Funny how it’s perfectly okay for rich folks to be belligerent, annoying, drunk, sit down, lie down and so forth in their own homes. But people who don’t have homes are held to some unrealistic standard of behavior just because they’re poor and more visible. I like the fact that homeless people are around, myself. It makes the streets feel inhabited. It feels safer than empty streets. And I’m glad that the enormous amount of public space in our city is being used by people who need it, not just yuppie idiots swanning around between bars, cafes and the Apple Store.

  18. Harassment and other anti-social or aggressive behavior is already illegal. Sit/Lie give discretionary power to the police to choose to harass people who don’t have property to close themselves off in, money to sit in cafes and restaurants, TVs or computers to park themselves in front of. Homeless people are some of the most marginalised people in the this country, and a majority of San Francisco voters have (apparently selfishly and ignorantly) decided that relieving their own discomfort is more important and ethical than the civil liberties of people already struggling against layers and layers of hardship.

    Like the person on the video says, making homelessness illegal doesn’t stop homelessness. It’s not a leisure activity. It’s what’s left when you run out of housing options in a society that believes in user-pays, take-care-of-your-own, every-man-for-himself, and the myth of anyone-can-do-it self-made wealthiness.

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