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Homeless people

scotland
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Homeless people

So I visit San Fran in June this year and I am currently reading as much as I can.

Homeless people seems to be a point that comes up a lot in trip reports.

Is it really that bad compared with NYC/Washington DC?

I have been to both and while there were homeless people especially in the parks in DC, it was never an issue or something that effected our holiday.

Is San Fran going to be any worse, or just the norm for a big city?

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Washington DC
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San Jose, California
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1. Re: Homeless people

The issue in SF is the panhandling. Some people get freaked out about it. Homeless tend to ask visitors for money more because residents generally just ignore them. I do think SF has more homeless than the eastern cities, probably because it rarely gets below freezing in SF.

Baltimore
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2. Re: Homeless people

For nitpicking reasons of my own, I prefer “street people.” For sure: a rose by another name, but homelessness aside, we more likely should be concerned about people who hassle, people who might be a little scary, those who might be distressing to observe, or worse, might be a source of disruption, or the very worst: a danger.

From what I observe, there is clearly a higher incidence of people I’m calling “street people” in San Francisco than in big eastern cities. For sure, lots of these people must be homeless. Those whom I’m pretty certain are really homeless are oftentimes the least likely among such “street people” to be a threat.

Regardless, if you’re a visitor in San Francisco who happens to wander through the Tenderloin, or along Sixth Street, and who encounters rows of disheveled people perhaps slouched against the walls of buildings, the sight can be offending. Nevermind how given you must be to sympathy for fellows in distress, coming upon large numbers of seemingly hopeless people in a wealthy American city is inexplicable.

Suffice it say, there are explanations. There are reasons near homeless people make their way to San Francisco – in their situation, I think I might too. There are also reasons people make their way to San Francisco, their heads filled with foolishness, only to discover it really is a city of terribly hard working, mostly middle class people. They may not be prepared for the hard work part.

But, rather than homeless people, I would worry more about a few of those other street people – just a few – no reason to be too frightened. There are people who seem as if they must live on the streets. I suspect they do not. Among such people a percentage are troublemakers, drug dealers, etc. They may be psychologically disordered, they may be damaged by drug and alcohol abuse, they may just be bad apples.

Making it confusing, there are plenty of San Franciscans hanging out on the streets simply because it’s what they like to do.

Were you to visit the public library, there and in the environs, you’d see plenty of street activity – including kids on skateboards. Some of these “kids” haven’t really be kids for a few years; maybe they need to find better ways to spend their time [like reading one of those nearby books], but they needn’t be a threat.

Which comes to an observation of a prior poster, San Francisco has an ideal climate and is an inviting destination for people of all stripes who may end up “on the streets.”

The OP asked if it would be a problem. As real life problems go, I think it’s close to zilch. You will be in a vibrant exciting city. As always, don’t let your enthusiasm get so carrying away you forget a little street sense. We all want you to have a good time.

Edited: 19 May 2013, 17:23
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San Francisco
San Francisco
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scotland
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3. Re: Homeless people

Thanks for the very informative answers.

Seems like SF is similar to other large cities.

Nothing to be worried about as long as I keep my wits about me and I am polite.

Thanks

Thousand Oaks...
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4. Re: Homeless people

I have never seen any issues that would affect you differently than any other larger North American city, except for one time.....

I witnessed a homeless (street denizen) watch a tourist using an ATM and trying to get his code number by looking over his shoulder. The tourist rightfully took umbrage over this and proceeded to beat the stuffing out of him. I'm sure the attackee will think twice next time he tries this.

Don't worry about the panhandlers and their signs.... Sometimes funny signs. Enjoy your visit.

Dr. Z

scotland
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5. Re: Homeless people

Thanks to all.

Tbh I wasn't really that worried about them, we have lots of homeless people who ask for money/food too in glasgow.

It just seemed that every trip report I read mentioned something about the street people as if it was a massive thing.

When in reality for me at least it's just part f the norm when visiting big cities.

San Francisco
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6. Re: Homeless people

Please come and enjoy San Francisco and all it has to offer. Do not, however, hand money out to people who ask. There is a reason that most panhandlers congregate in areas with a high density of visitors (Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf). Locals have long ago stopped giving money out based on creative hard luck stories (if they ever did). If the money dried up the "homeless" would find a job, find assistance for their addictions (and there is a lot available) or move on.

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Union Square
Union Square
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Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf
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7. Re: Homeless people

What's pan handling ( from the uk)

San Francisco, Ca
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8. Re: Homeless people

Panhandling is begging.

sf
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9. Re: Homeless people

SFcityguy you don't seem to understand that other cities like Las Vegas and Philly send the homeless here to SF with a 1 way bus ticket, because of the Ultra Liberal stance of the Bd of Stupes that run the City. If they'd stop handing out money a lot would leave. Homelessness in an Industry in San Francisco, but if anyone feels guilty, don't give money to the bums, but send a donation to St Anthony's or Glide Memorial who actually help people in need.

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San Francisco
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10. Re: Homeless people

>>If they'd stop handing out money a lot would leave.<<

Didn't they stop handing out cash years ago? From what I understand, folks who want services can get them, but there's still people who prefer to live on their own. Some of the folks living on the street are actually well-off, believe it or not. One North Beach fixture had a trust fund. He'd clean up occasionally, get housing, then eventually end up back on the street. It's obviously a complex question with no easy answers.

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North Beach
North Beach
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San Francisco, CA