Homeless shunted aside as San Francisco prepared for Super Bowl


Sarah Robinson

Sunday was the day so many Bay Area residents had been waiting for – the San Francisco Super Bowl. The city had spent a long time preparing for a game that was actually held in Santa Clara, and as it approached devoted fans had been pouring into the area.

But fans weren’t the only people deeply affected by the game – as the city prepared to show its best face to the rest of the nation, homeless people have been disappearing from San Francisco’s downtown area, but they haven’t actually left the streets.

A homeless encampment is growing underneath Highway 101, where tourists might only see in passing and the homeless can stay out of the bad winter weather. Back in August, Mayor Ed Lee said that the homeless population would have to “leave the street” during Super Bowl events, which lasted from January 30 to February 7, according to the San Francisco Business Times Morning Edition. Local business owner Michele Simons told the Times that she and her coworkers are seeing more homeless in their area than ever, and they no longer feel safe there. Fusion News reports that the only official explanation given for the influx of homeless on 13th street is that it is more sheltered in the winter.

Even though the actual event is being held 45 minutes away from the city by car, it is still trying to present its best face to the tourists. Despite having one of the biggest homeless populations in the country, the San Francisco city government is trying to hide the problem rather than fix it.

This issue is not over, or fixed, no matter how hard the city and the people try to ignore or hide it. The government – whether it’s the government of San Francisco, California, or the United States, needs to pass legislation to help our homeless, not just shunt them aside like so much garbage. We could enact propositions helping them gain jobs and training to move up in the world, besides the kind of charity work that organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are already doing.

We can’t just leave our homeless population on their own – they need help and are in more danger now that they are highly concentrated, as that has led to a spike in the crime rate where they were moved to. The way we treat the weakest and most helpless reflects the kind of character our society has – and currently, our society would rather lie than admit to being flawed. It is better to be honestly flawed, and try to fix our flaws, than it is to lie and pretend to be better than we are.

The government must do something, but so must we, as fellow citizens. The American dream is for everybody to have the same opportunity to become what they want to be, but while everybody in America is inherently born with the same rights, not all have the same opportunities for self-betterment.

The worst part is, one day any of us, as unlikely as it seems now, could end up on the streets. Enough bad luck or poor choices, and you’re sitting on the sidewalk hoping that you’ll somehow be able to scrape together enough to survive another day. It is so easy to distance ourselves from our homeless, so easy to believe that it would never happen to us. It’s so easy to just tell them to get a real job, but not so easy to create a job for them or even just give somebody a little money to last a little longer until they can find a job.

If we don’t help our homeless now, we will only suffer more in the future. We could give them more aid now and reduce the population, or continue to fail them and watch as more and more people are treated like garbage to be left at the dump while the crime rate spikes. The homeless population will not decrease on its own – the only way to really reduce the number in need is to help them through their difficulties to a brighter future.