The mayor of San Francisco has a brilliant new plan to deal with the thousands of pounds of feces that crowd her city’s streets: spend millions of dollars to teach the homeless to pick up their own poop.
In an interview with the local San Fran NBC affiliate, Mayor London Breed addressed the city’s disastrous homeless situation head on, admitting that her city is “drowning” in human waste.
“I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here,” Breed said, who grew up in San Francisco. “That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.”
But Breed laid the blame not at the feet of city policies, or at the feet of the homeless themselves, but with homeless advocacy organizations whom she believes aren’t doing enough to educate their clients when it comes to picking up poop.
“I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community — at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood,” Breed told NBC.
To that end, Breed is proposing an increase in funding, targeted at homeless education programs that will instruct San Fran’s transient population on how to handle their own feces, including (we surmise) instruction on how not to fill a bag with 20 pounds of their own waste and leave it on a street corner.
But San Francisco is already spending $65 million to clean their streets, and the city added an additional $15 million to that this year to help pay sanitation workers overtime to handle the more than 16,000 complaints of public defecation the city receives each month. That’s in addition to the $280 million San Fran spends to house, care for, and educate their homeless population.
The one thing the mayor swears she won’t do is penalize the more than 7,500 people that call San Francisco’s streets home for crowding city streets with homeless encampments, trash, and dirty needles.
“I didn’t express anything about a penalty.” Instead, she says, she’ll be pressuring non-profits “to talk to their clients, who, unfortunately, were mostly responsible for the conditions of our streets.”