In preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit which begins tomorrow, San Francisco has launched a massive clean-up effort to rid its downtown area of drug addicts, dealers, and the homeless population that has long plagued the city.
Residents have noticed a significant decrease in the number of homeless people and drug addicts on the streets as the city has focused its efforts on seven key intersections in the Tenderloin and South of Market (SoMa) neighborhoods. These areas are known for their large encampments of drug-addled individuals who can often be seen passed out on the streets.
According to sources, the city has been “herding” the transients and drug addicts to other parts of the city in order to create a more positive image for the international event. However, community activists and business owners are calling this effort a mere “Band-Aid” solution to a much bigger problem.
Some residents have even reported seeing temporary housing options being offered to the homeless in hotels, further highlighting the city’s attempt to hide the issue instead of finding a long-term solution.
Homeless people and drug addicts get temporarily thrown off the streets of San Francisco to make way for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Biden’s visit to the city.
Barricades have been erected along the sidewalks. pic.twitter.com/RWceZhktU6
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) November 12, 2023
However, the city’s actions have not gone unnoticed. The San Francisco Chronicle obtained emails between city officials that revealed their concern over encampments near the conference area and their efforts to clear them before APEC.
While some intersections have been successfully cleared of tents and homeless individuals, others such as Van Ness Avenue and California Street, Hyde and Eddy streets, and Taylor and Ellis streets, still remain problematic with visible encampments.
Business owner and community activist Ricci Lee Wynne expressed her disappointment with the city’s approach, stating that once APEC is over, the issue will likely resurface in these areas.
Similarly, Adam Mesnick, who owns a deli in the SoMa district, called on city leaders to take proper action on the homeless and drug crisis in the city. He shared his frustration over the lack of real solutions and likened the situation in the Tenderloin to a “Fentanyl Rush” instead of the Gold Rush.
Fentanyl-related drug overdoses continue to be a major concern in San Francisco, with the city on track to have 800 fatal overdoses this year. The director of San Francisco Behavioral Health Services, Dr. Hillary Kunins, stated that there are an average of two fatal overdoses per day, most of which are caused by fentanyl.
The city has attempted to address the issue by adding 300 more beds to its shelters, but it is unclear how many will be available in time for APEC. Homelessness department spokesperson Emily Cohen stated that they are making every effort to maximize shelter capacity during and after the conference.
As the APEC summit brings an influx of over 20,000 visitors to San Francisco, it is yet to be seen if the city’s temporary measures will have a lasting impact on the homeless and drug issues that have long plagued the city. Many are calling for real solutions and a permanent fix to this ongoing problem.