According to the Chronicle, San Francisco’s spent $1 billion since 2004 on health care, social services, and housing for our city’s homeless population, which breaks down to about $142,857,143 a year. But groups as disparate as the Visitors and Convention Bureau and Coalition on Homelessness say that the city’s homeless problem’s gotten worse, not better, in the Newsom era.

City officials say that the number of homeless folks we have on our streets has dropped to 6,500, from 8,640 counted in 2002. But executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness Jennifer Friedenbach says that they’ve “seen a tripling in the number of families and a 50 percent increase in single adults seeking shelter,” and that she feels services are actually being cut as the demand grows.

Joe D’Alessandro, head of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau tells the Chron that both visitors and locals complain to him about aggressive panhandlers, saying “your city is so beautiful, but we get harassed whenever we go out walking.”

The mayor recently told the Chron that 12,000 people have left our streets under his Care Not Cash initative, but argued that homelessness is a national problem. “This city is not an island,” Newsom said.

What do you think? Do you feel things are getting better or worse for our homeless population? Have you seen homelessness-related issues like aggressive panhandling improve or deteriorate in recent years? Vote in the poll to your left (sorry, RSS folks, you’ll need to click through) or expand on your thinking in the comments.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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