Last week, the New York Times reported on a plan led by the Chronicle to blanket San Francisco in news on homelessness for a day, an effort that Mission Local will take part in.

Given the feeling that media outlets are not often the most sensitive when it comes to news on homeless people, we asked our District Nine candidates to weigh in on the issue.

Do you think homeless people are portrayed fairly in the media? What do you think of the homeless coverage plan spearheaded by the Chronicle?

Respuestas en español aquí

Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos

Tension over street encampments has never been higher — the Mayor’s failed policies have pushed homeless encampments into the doorways and streets of our neighborhoods forcing the people of District 9 to bear the brunt of the crisis. We need to work immediately to move people out of encampments, into navigation centers, and into housing solutions.

Unfortunately coverage of homelessness in San Francisco often focuses on the tragedy and conflict of people living on the streets.

I hope the day of homeless coverage focuses on solutions and specifically:

– What has worked in other Cities and why isn’t it being implemented here?

– How are funds controlled by the Mayor’s departments currently being spent?

– Why is the legislation put forward by the Board of Supervisors to address homeless encampments being stifled by the Mayor?

Melissa San Miguel, education advocate

People experiencing homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. It’s disappointing the media can’t focus on the humanity of our neighbors who are homeless. But the problem, our problem is much bigger. What happened to our humanity that when we see someone laying on the ground, we don’t stop to ask, “how did you get here, how can I help you?”

Many people who are homeless are veterans who have served our country. Others are LGBTQ youth who were kicked out of their home. Some are people who have mental illnesses. Some are victims of abuse. Our leaders and our society are forgetting that these people are our brothers, our sisters, our Moms and Dads. These aren’t failed people.

The real failure is the lack of leadership by our elected officials to develop a system that can provide the housing, medical and mental health treatment, as well as other services our fellow human beings deserve. Government can’t solve every issue, but our city has many resources. We must hold our elected leaders accountable for serving and supporting the most vulnerable members of our community.

Joshua Arce, civil rights attorney and Community Liaison for Laborers Local 261

Too often the media doesn’t do enough to humanize homeless families and their children in their coverage. Next weeks coverage provides an opportunity to highlight more of the human tragedy that leads to homelessness, and I hope that opportunity isn’t lost.

High rates of homelessness are yet another tragic consequence of our housing crisis and continue to be one of the greatest policy failings in our city. Too often we here a lot of talk and not enough action from City Hall to fix the problem.

I am supportive of any efforts to raise awareness on this issue and it is my hope that the increased awareness will finally see some of the policy solutions that many of us have been calling on, such as the recommendation of the Coalition on Homelessness’ report into family homelessness, or the expansion of the homeless navigation centers.

Iswari España, Training Officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency

Yes, I believe that media outlets negatively portray homeless people at times. In my opinion, city officials are to blame. They often cast a shadow on their situation by placing a positive spin on how “great” their services and plans are in San Francisco. However, it is all talk as there is no follow-up. These notions render the reader with apathy and place blame on the homeless population; instead of creating genuine concern and awareness that this population is still in need of permanent housing, permanent employment and they are tired of empty proposals. Therefore, I support the effort of all media outlets to raise awareness on the issue.

Neither Edwin Lindo nor Darcel Jackson responded to this week’s question.

43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.

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  1. I wish any of these candidates would have included any kind of idea or solution. Mr. Arce’s suggestion that we ‘raise awareness’ is laughable. Anyone who spends mere minutes in San Francisco is aware of the deeply complex and challenging issue. Ms. Ronen asking generic questions and pointing fingers at the mayor’s office (not defending him by any means) is equally useless. While the navigation centers are progress, the divisive, combative language seems to indicate she is grasping at straws, desperate for attention. The homeless issue in this city will probably never be solved, but Ms. Ronen’s attitude seems to be one that won’t allow for much cooperation or progress. Same thing goes for the other candidates here – who I believe were far behind in the polls. Try making some tangible, original (more nav center is not in play) suggestions. I believe the candidate that does will be the one that differentiates themselves from the pack.