(National Sentinel) Failing: One of the country’s most expensive cities to live in has another problem: Its homeless population is not only growing but posing a major health risk.
NBC Bay Area journalists have just released a report detailing their findings after surveying 153 blocks in downtown San Francisco; they discovered more than 300 piles of feces and 100 drug needles, including areas featuring high-end hotels and government buildings. Top tourist destinations were also affected by the human waste and drug use.
The report stirred so much interest — and controversy — that someone was motivated to create an interactive website showing where feces is most common, in order to highlight the growing homeless problem.
Experts say the level of “contamination” is astounding.
“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” Dr. Lee Riley, a UC Berkeley professor, told the journalist investigators.
“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases,” he said, adding that drying feces on the street can be breathed in by passers-by, leading the spread of diseases like rotavirus.
“If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” he said, noting that the virus can be fatal for children.
“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” teacher Adelita Orellana told the NBC investigative unit.
“Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”
What is taking place is “unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen told the journalist investigators.
“We’re losing tourists. We’re losing conventions in San Francisco. All of this is happening because we aren’t addressing the root cause, which is we need more temporary beds for street homelessness.”
Critics say ‘solutions’ — providing taxpayer-supported shelters and benefits — will only attract more homeless people.
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