Two things in San Francisco any tourist will almost certainly encounter -- foggy weather and panhandlers.
That also happens to be the two issues that irritate visitors the very most about our fair city, as confirmed by a recent San Francisco Travel Association survey.
Tourists boast of our obvious gems -- stellar scenic beauty, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and a gay and lesbian scene that's off the hook.
But that becomes eclipsed by the fact that 25 percent of tourists surveyed said the worst part about coming to San Francisco is dealing with the panhandlers.
While these results should come as no surprise, they do beg the question: Are we on our way to ending homelessness by 2014, a goal pointedly stated by former Mayor Gavin Newsom?
"No," said Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on
the Homelessness. "Unless 11,000 units of affordable housing magically
appear, we will still have folks without a place to call home."
Newsom had secured both money and space for his beloved Daily Homeless Connect program, a one-stop shop for homeless residents. Yet the program, which was supposed to start last month, has been more like a one-stop flop.
The homeless picture becomes drearier than a rainy week in San Francisco when considering the drastic cuts coming forward. Tomorrow, the city will consider the Health and Human Services Agency proposal which includes an 80 percent reduction in homeless resource centers, and the possible closure of a homeless shelter.
And then there's the San Francisco Public Health Department, which still has to come up with $27 million in cuts by next month -- most of which will likely hit the city's poor and homeless population, Friedenbach said.
The survey results should serve to help homeless advocates make their case for more shelters and services; yet Friedenbach believes these tourist complaints will only fuel more political campaigns to criminalize homelessness.
"It's unsettling," she said. "People come here and see all this affluence and wealth and then they find people in total destitution."
And it's those people living on the streets who truly have to suffer San Francisco's crappy weather.
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