Homeless youth overlooked by city

Zoe Newcomb

News Editor

San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate Bridge, bone-chilling summer fog, the Seven Painted Ladies and cultural diversity. It’s also known for the widespread homelessness that blankets the city.

Of the 7,000 homeless said to be living on the streets, it’s estimated 1,400 are children. In a city that is in year six of a 10-year plan to abolish homelessness, there is only one shelter in the city dedicated to the plight of those under 18.

Without support from anyone, homeless youth are left to wander by themselves — struggling just to survive. Education and health take a backseat to finding a home for the night and scavenging food. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to mask the pain.

Helping get these kids off the streets should be job number one for the San Francisco government. It should be more important than greening the city. It should be more important than Mayor Gavin Newsom’s failed quest for governor.

Before the city can improve education or create more jobs, it needs to get to the place where everyone is actually getting an education or where people are stable enough to hold a job.

Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars San Francisco is said to funnel into homelessness, the city is still the seventh meanest city to homeless in the United States, according to a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Considering how common homelessness is in San Francisco, one would think that the city would at least be able to treat the people on the streets with kindness. Yet, homeless shelters around the city continue to close, and become more and more overcrowded.

As resources for the homeless begin to decrease dramatically, homeless youth are being pushed aside. Without the proper care and education, these youth will grow up to become chronically-homeless adults with no skills to hold a job and no ability to move out of their situation.

Maybe Newsom’s 10-year plan will somehow begin to take effect in the remaining four years, but the homeless situation in San Francisco isn’t going to change until someone starts paying attention to the kids.