Reagan's legacy: Homeless death


The headline on sfgate is about as brutal as you can get: "The coming homeless die-off." But the brief story points to an alarming set of statistics: The median age of homeless people on the streets of US cities is now 53. The life expectancy for homeless people is 64. You get the point.

But here's the key political element:

Social scientists say the median age has been steadily increasing for many years, supporting the “big bang” theory that many of today’s street people hit the gutter back in the 1980s era of recession and slashings of social programs.

Having lived through the Reagan Era, and worked with homeless people in the early 1980s at the Haight Ashbury Switchboard, I can tell you that makes perfect sense. Vast libraries of books have been written about the Reagan Era, but one of the things it represented was the end of major federal support for low-cost housing in cities -- and the end of any concept of linking welfare payments to the cost of housing.

There were a lot of people living on General Assistance and SSI in San Francisco in the late 1970s, and most of them had homes. That's because public assistance programs provided enough income to cover the rent on a cheap place. Between GA and food stamps, people who were, for whatever reason, unable to work wound up in crappy apartments and sometimes crappier SROs, but they weren't on the streets.

Yes: Some of those people had serious substance-abuse issues. Yes: SSI and GA checks were going, in part, for drugs and booze. But even ignroing the notion that it's much better for a drunk to have an SRO room than to be homeless, it's also cheaper. San Francisco spends a fortune on homeless services, and if the feds (and the City and County) had indexed public assistance to the cost of housing (which happened pre-Reagan) the toll on the local taxpayers would almost certainly be lower.

So Reagan's policies are now killing people on the streets of San Francisco. All these years later.




why don't you write an article about juliet ellis and her SFPUC corruption and unethcial practice?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

Can you also write an article about how the prop 30 tax money is going towards pensions? SFBG loved Prop 30 and now it looks like a total sham.

Posted by The Commish on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

You never know where the money will end up, such as here where money destined to fund education ends up in the bloated pension entitlements of faceless bureaucrats.

Starve the beast. It's the only way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

that if the supply is aging and dropping dead we'll soon be left with less non-productive members of society to support. Less people shitting and shooting up in the gutters, harassing citizens, keeping animals they cannot support, panhandling & fighting and murdering one another. Really doesn't sound that negative at all. Tim may shed a tear for our long-term willfully homeless population - I don't think anyone else is going to.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

poor, huddled masses. But then he of course always discounts the cost of throwing even more welfare at them, except of course for his throwaway "tax the rich " line.

The issue is never whether people should he helped, but rather how much additional taxes and borrowing the voters are willing to tolerate.

The fiscal deficits at all levels of government imply the exact opposite - that we cannot even afford existing levels of largesse.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

I live in Haight Ashbury and although I see some more mature homeless people, the majority of them loitering around Golden Gate Park at the end of Stanyan are a lot younger than 53. Many of them are in their twenties. The problem is that the gangland system of governance is ruled by the younger and stronger. It's never been a good solution and it's getting worse.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

why the sit-lie law was passed a couple of years ago, to ensure they keep moving. But it's still a disgrace that epople cannot enter the park, at least from the east, without walking through intimidating gaggles of kids selling drugs, with their attendant hounds snarling menacingly.

The older guys generally are in the TL or the Mission around 16th and Mission. At least they are contained in those fairly limited area's where most people never need to venture, but it's still a problem.

Cash not Care has helped, but SF's generosity towards the homeless ensures that they continue to arrive. What we need is some tough love.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

I won't read the comments because I suspect they are as hateful, smug and nasty towards the homeless as they usually are. Waste of time. I already know that content.

Do you not realize that whenever you mention the garbage site where you read the "article" (that your article is about), that you are giving that garbage site free publicity and possibly $$? Why would you do that? Can't you write an article without giving someone else publicity?

Did you pay to read the article you wrote about? WHY would you do that? It seems that many of your articles are about someone else's articles. That's rather lazy "journalism." Who cares what they say at that conservative site? Do they frequently write articles about what writers at the Bay Guardian say? I doubt it.

As I said the other day, the day can't come soon enough that those other sites (the paywall one and the free one) go out of business because there are no credible people there. It's useless. Garbage. So why do you keep promoting them and any mention of them is promoting them, which is why I've not mentioned the names of the two sites in this post. Why can't you understand that? Or do you really enjoy promoting hateful right-wing/conservative websites hiding behind the word, "moderate" and who consistently cheer-lead for conservative politicians here who also hide behind the word "moderate" to hide their agenda.

When I saw the scheme for that pay site, I said, "I bet the Guardian and/or Tim Redmond will be a good sucker and pay for it as faux-progressives because where else would they get much of their own article content?" Seems I was correct, unfortunately.

Some people don't seem to understand that voting with one's money is the best way to vote (where one spends their money is the most important vote)....and you're apparently giving your vote/money to that conservative "news" corporation while calling yourself a "progressive." People can call themselves anything but their actions speak to who they really are.

It's hopeless. There's no question in my mind why what used to be the (real) progressive movement is now dead. And this is just one example of that.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

and so, I have to ask, what the heck do you read? Nothing? Is there no source that is left-wing enough for you? If that is the case, that probably tells us more about your extremism than it does about those journals.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

and reads Daily Kos.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 4:19 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

I agree that the epidemic of homelessness in American cities began with the policies of Reagan - especially in defunding cities. But we should also acknowledge that Democrats have allowed the issue to be exacerbated and, indeed, continued to further policies designed to criminalize homelessness. We've seen in San Francisco that Democratic Party politicians are just as likely to pass policies which specifically *harm* the homeless - sit/lie - as Republicans. And yet Democrats are doing nothing to address the root causes of homelessness.

This is why Occupy turned to direct action in order to draw attention to the issue.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 10:12 am

fizzled out as soon as it became cold and wet?

You complain that the GOP and the Dem's don't care, but seemingly neither did the Occupiers or they would have stuck it out instead of capitulating and running home to mom.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 10:47 am

You seem to have a bit of a memory problem. 7,000+ people were arrested during Occupy for engaging in civil disobidence. Being arrested and having your stuff impounded is a bit different than "running home."

I'm sure you'd prefer that people who supported Occupy would self-immolate so that we'd be out of the way, but some of us are doing things now like getting law degrees and working for labor organizations. We haven't gone away, we're fighting on a different front. And if you opposed Occupy, I hope that worries you.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

Very few of those arrests led to charges. Most were just released after a few hours. That should not have deterred anyone who had any real conviction that this was a fight worth undertaking.

So yes, fight on a different front, because the Occupy front never came to anything. I doubt I will be troubled by anyone who can't even camp out unless it's summer.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

-- or Ispitonreagan? -- was the screen name of a commenter on SFGate who's comments I liked.

I think Spit get tired of having his/her comments deleted by the actions of the same sort of un-American curs we have here.

In the same way, the trolls on SFGate would falsely attribute reprehensible statements and attitudes to others and then imperiously demand that the victims prove their innocence.

No amount of reporting these offensive personal attacks would result in their being removed, but a perfectly understandable response such as calling the attackers "liars" would result in immediate censorship.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 6:06 am

that you happen to disagree with will, no doubt, continue to get you into trouble on online forums, not to mention in real life if you ever had the nerve to do that.

Politicians have a rule not to call each other "liar" because it is considered rude and intolerant. You could learn a lot from them.

And disagreeing with you is not un-American. Watch your step.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 8:58 am

You trolls seem to think we need "correcting"; that we can't be allowed to discuss matters as we see fit. You *know* there are plenty of right-wing or "moderate" fora where you can spout off your corporatist pablum and give yourselves a bunch of pleasurable up-thumbs, but instead you insist on coming here to and repeating yourself ad nauseum.

What would happen if we went on a field trip to the sort of site which is more in tune with your way of thinking and started your brand of shallow repetative rhetoric? We'd get banned in short order. You *know* it.

You don't tolerate disagreement which is obvious because you never just shut up and go the fuck away.

You trolls don't just do injustice to the truth, you do an injustice for the basic respect for all men that was embodied in this nation's founding documents (except native americans and slaves, but at least some of their hearts were in the right place.)

You *are* un-American and it's the sort of un-Americanism that once stormed Washington D.C. and burned the White House to the ground.

Royalists, rightists, reactionaries, monarchists, corporatists; it's all the same in the end: you think it is man's lot to compete and dominate others until there is just one source of power and authority. Each of your kind is like a questing tick seeking greater opportunity and damn all the souls that are negatively affected by your gain.

Like a lowlife who does $1000.00 worth of damage to someone's dashboard to steal a $10 radio, you rightists will destroy an economy to make out a little better for yourselves.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

ridiculously left-wing. You were banned for being rude, offensive, insulting, hectoring and accusatory.

You betray the American principles of tolerance and civil disagreement by attacking anyone who has the temerity to have a different world view.

If someone has a different opinion from you, that does not make them a "liar". Sadly you cannot differ from someone without hating on them.

Funny thing is, in real life I'd bet a fair sum that you're completely timid and taciturn. You're only a warrior behind the anonymous safety of a keyboard. Out in the real world, your pathos would be all too evident.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

of self-congratulator sockpuppet bullshit, so that must mean you're a real badass compared with me.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

unless you had "squatted" on them.

You are contradicting your prior statements here. Someone like you would call that "lying".

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 6:40 am

his posts EVER. And that's saying something.

This statement in particular: "You don't tolerate disagreement which is obvious because you never just shut up and go the fuck away."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 5:12 pm


Is it really any surprise that Lilli gets banned so much?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 6:42 am

The City of San Francisco spends more on the homeless today than it ever did. The budget exceeds $70 Million/year. The City has a homeless population of around 6000. That works out to almost $12,000 per person per year.

Where does this money go?

Posted by Best on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

The more we give the homeless, the more homeless arrive. So it's a vicious circle that SF can never solve without some tough love.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

Word: Neoliberalism: This socioeconomic restructure continues to affect the whole world as its seek-and-destroy-app annihilates every element of would-be utopia. Its mission: If moral hazard cannot be excised, then social democracy will become defunct, replaced with plutocracy.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Apr. 03, 2013 @ 12:04 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 03, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

Maybe a supplemental reading class would help you and less twitter?

Posted by Awayneramsey on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

I'd like to see the proof that none of these people were homeless before 1980 or became homeless after 1988. What's that? There's no proof? You're making it up? Yeah, I figured.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 9:15 am

and good fucking riddance.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 12:35 pm