I really don’t want to say this about my beautiful San Francisco, but things are getting pretty dicey out here over the last few months. We have a person sleeping outside who is constantly smoking crack, and then screaming all day and all night long. They are utterly distraught with life and acting out accordingly. I have not been getting much sleep, as they wake me up fighting, screaming, shouting at their shadow and sometimes barking like a dog. I’ve called anyone who could help (from law enforcement when they were fighting to the HOTS team which is meant to help unhoused people), and no one is interested in actually taking them in to get some treatment, or helping them. They just remain outside in desperate need on the same stretch of road. This poor soul is tortured…and in return causing a lot of stress and lack of sleep to people who live here inside buildings. The street is full of dealers and users and trash that gets tipped out and hoarded like treasure. It was not like this for over a year. It was a reasonably safe street, which is gradually becoming absolutely lost to the dealers and the users and those who need help and yet get none.
I am living on my nerves. Fighting and violence outside and the very loud expressions of that trigger my PTSD horrifically. I try and turn on the music, but that violence just bleeds through the sound. My nerves are shredded. I feel sick. I am intimidated every time I try and leave or enter my house. It is not just my street, all these blocks of Civic Center, Lower Nob Hill, “Tendernob” or “Tenderloin Heights”, Polk Gulch, plus parts of Mission and areas of SOMA are under siege. The City is asking for solutions, but instead just doing the same things which have not worked before and will not work now. They do not want to hear actual solutions.
I was writing yesterday for a local paper, about the need for a safe supply and safe use system in San Francisco. I truly believe this would fix a lot of the problems. Greater and compassionate mental health inpatient care, added to SRO style hotel shelters which provide privacy, and that people want to go to, plus free to use city bathrooms would fix the rest of it. Of course none of this would be done. Switzerland fixed the drug issues in Bern and Geneva by opening safe supply and safe use centers, where the drug of choice is prescribed by doctors to users, thus removing the need to commit crime to fund their habits, and removing the dealers from the streets due to lack of customers. They added to this, safe use centers which monitored people as they used the drugs, which then helped prevent overdoses, and extensive and easily accessed detox and rehab services. The areas which had been so full of used needles, junkies, and crime cleared up. Burglaries decreased by over 95 percent. The age of the average opiate addict increased to 44. In short, they fixed the problem with pragmatism and compassion.
San Francisco needs to get really pragmatic. I feel unsafe now even walked to the shops in Mission, or outside my own front door after dark. It now doesn’t feel particularly safe in the daytime either. I have a certain amount of louche ability to ignore the shouting when it is in my direction, but the fact remains that pedestrians should not be harassed, and public order offenses which prevent people from sleeping are currently ignored. I don’t need to hear someone else’s drug drama. For the record I was never ever like that. I kept myself to myself and tried to not inconvenience or bother anyone else. I wanted no attention, just to be left alone.
This block is now covered in human shit. It is a public health hazard. I can’t even open my window because of the smell of people smoking fuck knows what out there. Both sides needs to have a bit of respect for others, but when there are no consequences at all, of course people who are at war with society will act out, show their displeasure and continue to fight. It is a war on homelessness and addiction, and this war is against our own people. We should be helping people recover their lives, not fighting them so that they feel compelled to fight back. Working with those who are unhoused, and those who are addicted and using on the streets, as well as the hidden addicts who have houses to go back to, but still come and frequent the dealers down here, would mean improving society for all concerned. This culture of punishment does nothing but create misery.
The sweeps do not help. They merely move the problem from one block to another, while not fixing life for the people causing the issues because of their mental health crises and their addiction being fed from the street. People do not disappear. This is a basic fact of life that San Franciscan leaders need to remember. Moving the issues from one block to another fixes nothing and is inhumane to those being ‘swept’ as if they are trash, not suffering human beings.
I could do with a night’s sleep, some peace and quiet being restored and my inner alarm quietening down, instead of sounding the danger alarm every time I hear a new altercation.
In other news, I will be seeing Roger Waters tomorrow (Thank you, Ruthie!), along with the Boy. I can’t wait to write the review. I just wish I felt safe going to the Chase Center stadium, and then back to my house at night time, because I really don’t.