Have you seen this year’s ballot? It has an insane amount of measures! And there’s some really important stuff on there.
Should we legalize weed (Proposition 64)? Hell yeah!
Should we put an extra tax on properties sold for $5 million or more (Proposition W)? Damn skippy!
Should we buy and fix up affordable housing (Proposition C)? For the love of everything holy, yes!
But there’s also some pretty nefarious stuff on the ballot, too, and Proposition Q is the worst of them. The slogan for the Yes on Prop. Q campaign is “Housing not Tents.” To which my response is, “No shit.”
Of course people should be in homes instead of tents. Nobody wants to be living in a tent underneath the freeway, worrying each night if their few meager possessions will get stolen or if they will get attacked while they sleep. But the problem is that Prop. Q does nothing to actually put people in homes. All it does is shuffle them from place to place and make it easier for their tents to be taken from them.
The absurd idea behind this ridiculous measure is that if you take people’s tents away and give them a bed in a shelter for a night, things will be all gravy after that. The problem that it doesn’t seem to take into account is that there are already more than 700 people on the list each day to get into shelters — there are no lonely beds thinking, “Oh, why won’t somebody just sleep in me tonight?”
By breaking up encampments and guaranteeing the people living there a room for one night, San Francisco will, in turn, be displacing people who are already on the waiting list or ones who already have beds.
The saddest thing about this inhumane take on one of the biggest issues facing The City is that it’s just political posturing. There’s a lot of talk about Mark Farrell, the supervisor who wrote Prop. Q, potentially running for mayor in 2019. Being the guy who “got rid of those pesky tents” sure would look good to his current constituents in the Marina, Seacliff, Pacific Heights and Russian Hill — even though those are places where there are no tents. It would help him build up name recognition for when he does decide to run.
Taking tents away from people who don’t have a place to go, instead of working toward getting them into transitional and permanent housing, is the logical equivalent of believing that teaching abstinence education, instead of sex education, will stop teenagers from getting pregnant.
Look, I live on the SoMa-Mission border. I’m on the corner of Needle Street and Diarrhea Road, and things are pretty dire. But making life harder for the people in our society who are already our most fragile members seems like the kind of bullying that Donald Trump would endorse. Homeless people are not the enemy, homelessness is.
Luckily, there are a few measures on the ballot that will provide more housing for the homeless. Proposition S sets aside $17 million in funding for getting homeless families off the streets, and Propositions J and K add another $50 million for homeless housing. This is how you solve homelessness — by giving people homes.
For more information on progressive ways to vote this election, check out my voter guide over on www.BrokeAssStuart.com
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.