McClaughry: San Francisco’s homelessness crisis

by John McClaughry

An editorial in last Monday’s Wall Street Journal explains the astonishing homelessness problem in San Francisco.

“California has spent more than $20 billion on housing for the homeless since 2020, yet public encampments continue to grow. As San Francisco progressives are learning, government can build more shelter, but that doesn’t mean the homeless will use them.”

“The city of San Francisco released data last week showing that 55% of homeless individuals rejected shelter when offered it. Mayor London Breed threw her hands up in response. ‘We can’t force people to accept or stay in shelters and we’re unable to prevent people from setting up an encampment in an area that was just cleaned.’ she tweeted Wednesday.”

“San Francisco is under a federal injunction that bars officials from enforcing laws against camping or sleeping in public spaces as long as its homeless population exceeds available shelter beds. … The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment creates a right to vagrancy.

“… a particular problem is San Francisco’s refusal to prosecute drug crimes. In 2014 California’s Proposition 47, which was backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and other progressives, effectively decriminalized drug use and shoplifting. Localities can’t use the threat of jail to induce addicts to receive treatment.” 

If anyone has a solution to this problem, San Francisco’s Mayor Breed needs to hear about it.

The author, a Kirby resident, is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. To read all EAI news and commentary, go to

6 replies »

  1. Don’t worry, Vermont is only two steps behind, of the same liberal nonsense,
    want proof, come to Burlington and see homeless laying around the streets
    pitching tents or tarps everywhere, if that’s not enough check out the ” nude ”
    man just walking around…………. proud as can be, mental issues but the city
    let’s it happen !!

  2. San Francisco is reaping what they have sown. Now, after the glowing success that the policies there have generated, Burlington has decided that it needs a piece of that action. Good luck Burlington ! I personally know of several people that used to shop, dine, or frequent bars there, that won’t any more until the lawlessness is under control, and the city returns to the safe, fun place it used to be. Bye, bye Burlington.

  3. Please substitute the name San Francisco and replace it with Vermont. If you do this, it will save the need to rewrite and reread the article later.

    Funny how we can simplify our lives.

  4. The first step for California is to vote out their progressive government. 2. Stop paying the homeless to stay homeless and druggies to stay druggies. 3. Put them to work for the towns cleaning up the mess they leave behind including needles and feces and whatever garbage they have accumulated and if they don’t, nomore handouts! Burlington and other towns cold do the same and save taxpayers quite a lot in taxes just by putting them to work.

  5. In all fairness, conditions in many shelters are horrendous.
    Furthermore, usually disability is ignored.

  6. The Truth is San Francisco is not the only metro city with a homeless problem. It is not a new phenonom and it is not going away any time soon…likely to get significantly worse – thanks to open borders and a dead currency. Please understand, the despots in charge want this and do it on purpose. If it wasn’t fine by them, we would not have this issue plaguing the entire country and Canada as well. It’s called a landgrab. Force people out and off their properties, make them desitute and hopeless. Once the situation reaches dire cataclysmic crisis mode, the despots will provide pods, FEMA trailers, tents w/extra blankets (right Senator MacDonald?) community service jobs, and barely enough tainted food and tainted water to keep people barely alive. The war is real.

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