Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Adrift"? No, not really.

From the "Things That Bug Me" backlog: an editorial about San Francisco's new homelessness policy czar, Bevan Dufty, in last month's SF Chronicle. It says too many people lack housing in this town, which is true. Except it's said this way: "Thousands of homeless people have moved indoors, but thousands more remain adrift on downtown streets and neighborhood sidewalks."

Actually, well, no.

Thousands of homeless people have been moved indoors. Some forcibly, some not. Some with happy results that open new horizons, but some merely to stare at the walls of SRO rooms out of sight of the paying customers who are the officially preferred walkers of the San Francisco streets.

Thousands more homeless people remain outdoors. Living outdoors isn't necessarily a matter of "drifting". In most cases it's a full-time job, one that has to be pursued purposefully if it's going to keep someone going at all. A matter of standing in the right lines at the right times, or approaching regular donors when they'll be around, or pushing a cart all day collecting scrap, or (at the top of the spectrum) making sure the van will be OK all day and finding a way to shower before work, or (at the foot of the spectrum) organizing other, unhappier ways of getting by...

Actually I think people do a lot more drifting indoors than out.

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