Encampment Resident: The Homeless Epidemic is Real

Shyhyene Brown at a homeless encampment. Photo: Bobbie Simko.

Try getting up in the morning to being told you have to pack up and leave. Try staying humble when you are being disrespected by the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Public Works on a constant basis. Try standing back and watching DPW throw your most precious possessions away in the compactor. Try seeing your loved one’s hauled off to jail for not cooperating with the police. Or waking up in fear of random people hurting you for no reason all because you are homeless.

Every day is not the same when I wake up; it’s different every day. There are days that I just want to be lazy and there are days when I get out and hustle. And on those days, I have to ask friends of mine to watch my belongings just in case DPW comes and wants to take them away. I pray to God that it’s still there when I get back. From my experience being homeless, I’ve had my days of migraine headaches with SFPD and DPW.

See, being homeless is a struggle in itself. Unlike some people who have a 9-to-5 work week and don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or where their head is going to lay. But we do, and it’s a shame how San Francisco can spend all this money for building lavish apartments and playgrounds, but refuse to give a penny for decent housing. The lawmakers have said that San Francisco has a “homeless epidemic.” My question is: Since we have such a problem, then what are the lawmakers doing to solve the problem? When are these government officials going to held accountable for the homeless epidemic as well?

In order to get rid of this epidemic, there are a few things we have to do:

1. Build apartments dedicated to the homeless population. Currently, if a homeless person is staying in the Navigation Center, they can only stay for a longer period of time and access housing if they have been homeless for 13 or more years. We should house all homeless people right when they become homeless, no matter how long they have been homeless.

2. Have on-site case managers who can address all issues such as mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, life skills and more.

3. See how it works for one year. If more funding becomes available, build more apartments for homeless people. If not, then strategize around what needs improvements.

Let it be co-existent. This means that men, women, LGBT, couples and others can stay together. It also means that we have to create spaces that are welcoming and safe for all groups.

4. Have three square meals a day with a nutritionist on site to manage healthy eating habits.

There are many more things that I can sit here and say, but these are a few important ones.

I challenge all district supervisors and our Mayor to stop spending money relentlessly and spend it on more beneficial things. Just because we are homeless doesn’t mean are not human beings. You want our tents to come down? Then take my suggestion and figure out how you can end this epidemic.