In San Francisco, an estimated number of 13,000 individuals experience homelessness in a single year. However, this figure remains ambiguous and is merely based on community volunteers and agencies’ point-in-time count.
With such issue being laid bare to the public eye, more than 70 news organizations in San Francisco and the Bay Area are expected to come together on Wednesday for a day of reporting to cover concerns regarding homelessness.
Earlier this year, news outlets around the Bay Area also published and broadcasted stories on homelessness as they took part in the SF Homeless Project, which was recognized as a unified effort to draw attention to one of the city’s most persistent troubles.
The initiative was led by the San Francisco Chronicle through its editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper.
“I originally thought we’d get 15 people, maybe the editors I knew really well. Then the list grew to 30, 40. We held a meeting and I said, there’d be free wine, no commitment, you’ll meet other editors — a low bar to entry,” Cooper recalled. “And then everyone saw all the other outlets present and got really excited about what was going on and the idea of everyone doing their own thing — but together.”
San Francisco has reportedly spent nearly $250 million dollars on services rendered for the homeless but has not brought on remarkably improved conditions over the years.
“I’m not going to control what everybody else does. From a purely intellectual, journalistic standpoint, what is most fascinating about this is that everybody is more or less covering the same thing, but from their own unique media perspective,” Cooper added, explaining the essence of their initiative.
While visitors to San Francisco come across people sleeping out on the streets and wonder why the city’s officials are not doing something about the problem, the fact is that there have been intensified efforts when it comes to workable solutions over the past year but has been accompanied with struggles and stumbling blocks.
“This is an experiment. We didn’t go into it with a certain set of goals,” Holly Kernan, KQED’s executive editor for news, further explained about the project. “But you always hope that there’s some sort of impact, that the public talks about things in a new way, that your journalism might move some people to empathy and action.”
The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing has been established in San Francisco as officials aim towards a more cohesive approach in addressing homelessness with the help of eight city departments along with 76 private and non-profit agencies.
One of the first major steps in addressing the problem is to provide “supportive housing” for individuals whose issues such as disabilities and substance abuse have caused difficulties for them to improve their quality of life on the streets.
Mayor Ed Lee is also pushing for the creation of an integrated system that can help monitor the use of homeless services. To achieve coordinated assessment means the city should use a single procedure when it comes to homeless people’s applications for emergency shelter, short-term housing, permanent housing and the like.
A medical shelter would also make nursing care available for homeless people who need to recover and recuperate. Sick people on the streets will also be cared for if new funding proposals for such outreach will be proposed and adopted.