> Yet there are about 7,500 homeless ...
Wait, what? 300,000,000 / 7500 is 40,000 per person.
Yes, I know San Francisco is expensive. I lived there for a couple of years (as an entitled tech bro, of course). But holy cow, if you ever wanted yet another metric to demonstrate the craziness that is SF living costs, here it is.
- The SF homelessness abatement budget includes a lot of money to support low income renters and other services that are used by people you might become homeless if not for city assistance.
- Considering that health coverage for a high tech worker with no chronic conditions can easily run 20k+, it's not surprising that an unhoused individual who may have many health conditions costs more to care for.
As to your points:
- Sure, preventative measures make complete sense. Of course, even low income, subsidized, budget housing is still stupidly expensive in SF, compared to the vast majority of the US. And of course, even just being virtually anywhere on the BART lines to SF/Bay Area are notoriously expensive. 
- Again, totally agree. Health care costs be high, yo. But we can agree that they're only artificially high because of systemic issues in the healthcare system of the US, right? :) 
I understand that lucrative career opportunities exist in concentrated industry meccas like SF/NY. Even still, I can't but help shake my head when I try to fathom the orders of magnitude that folks in the SF reality distortion field deal with. Especially when compared to ... well, pretty much anywhere else in the world, really!
As illustrated by the article, there's no shortage of money, but that money doesn't seem to be effective in addressing an issue that residents of the city are very concerned about.
To me the key paragraph is:
> When professionals help try to bring some structure and organisation into the chaos, it can take many attempts to
succeed and the biggest obstacle is not always about
providing a roof
Most of the people who 'choose' street life have truly awful alternatives. Drugs, mental illness, family abandonment, etc are often at play. Convincing themselves that they want to be homeless can also be a form of adaptation to make the condition more bearable.
The article addresses that. If you thought big brother was watching you, this would seem to fit nicely into that, wouldn't it?
I've seen a few interesting discussions of this idea with regard to mental illness in general.
If someone says they think the government can track their location at all times, is scanning their phonecalls, and shares that data with an international conspiracy... are they schizophrenic, or just talking about the NSA sharing data with Five Eyes?
If you ask somebody to sign a narrow, research-only privacy waiver for a drug trial and they say you're going to share that info with a tech company that already has a secret profile of their entire life... the NHS did pass private medical records to DeepMind.
If they say online ads are talking to them personally as part of a coordinated campaign to brainwash them, it turns out you can have that done to somebody for $30.
It doesn't particularly seem like this is a general problem in terms of diagnosing or treating people; paranoia disorders follow pretty clear patterns of thinking, and they're usually self-validating whether or not there are actual conspiracies afoot. But the specific case of asking people to sign consents and agree to monitoring seems like a major hurdle, and I've seen some doctors point out that they can't even choose low-intimidation wordings because consent forms are usually written by legal to cover all possible cases.
Where can I get one of those free cabins, and will my friends join me?
The basic problem is that no matter what you find in terms of unregulated off-the-grid living, you need to own property in order to legally put up a permanent residence. Generally this involves being a titled landowner, which requires paperwork and in basically all cases payment, either to purchase land or via property taxes. (You can find local governments offering free land, but it comes with extensive rules and at most temporary property-tax exemptions. Tax-free land, meanwhile, will have to be purchased since homesteading is no longer legal. The newest direct homestead claims were made in 1986, while the indirect tactic of patented mining claims ended in 1994.) You could potentially get a landowner to guarantee you such rights for free, but that still sets a minimum standard of legally-binding paperwork signed with the owner.
Option one to avoid paperwork is to live off the grid without a fixed address. Lots of 'tiny house' residents build homes that are in principle movable to avoid building code hurdles, but they generally own property; I'm not sure where it would be legal to park a mobile home or towable cabin indefinitely, but there might be places. You could live out of an RV or any other property that genuinely does relocate, but that's going to mean filing paperwork to keep a vehicle registered. Finally, you could abandon even a semi-fixed residence and just permanently camp on public lands. As far as I know this is legal if you can survive doing it, but you'll generally need to follow some inconvenient rules; through much of the Southwest you can camp freely on public land if you relocate by at least 25 miles every 14 days.
Option two is to live illegally with an eye towards eventual legal ownership. Adverse possession must be "open and notorious" and generally can't be used to obtain government land, so you'd probably want to check out state laws and choose an abandoned mining claim or other unattended property. (Montana has remote land and particularly favorable rules for this sort of thing, and Alaska of course maximizes open space.) This will involve quite a lot of paperwork and lawyer's fees if the original owner contests your claim, but that's true of any legal challenge. Since title can be created without proactively filing any documents to show ownership, I think this counts as "without paperwork".
To my knowledge, the 'traditional' approach where you build a fixed cabin somewhere and it's legal from day one without paperwork is completely impossible. Doing it with paperwork but no payment might be possible, but I don't know of a way.
They're still American citizens. By what mechanism do we determine that they're psychotic and therefore not allowed to live off the grid? Do we lock them up in a psych ward until they "admit" to their insanity, for the crime of ranting?
That does not match what I've read elsewhere.
What happened to good old-fashioned caseworkers who got to know each aid recipient (homeless person) and understood the needs/issues for each person and was the advocate for the person to help resolve the issues around receiving the aid that currently available...maybe I being too naive
Perhaps they could use a records management system that helps them keep track of everything across a sizable, and maybe not perfectly coordinated, series of agencies? It might even make it easier to advocate for our vulnerable neighbors and friends who need understanding, compassion, and assistance.
Right now I'm sure you're thinking "Surely SF caseworkers have something like that!". And that's a very reasonable assumption to make - they certainly do now. They didn't before, when care and aid for those who are unhoused was more disorganized.
They just started with the homeless people and prisoners because those people can't fight back.
I am not discussing state of being homeless but one's choice to live independent from the majority of the society.
Source: Once helped a college friend with her thesis by helping her conducting interviews with homeless people living near our university campus.
It's an interesting culture. I remember one article where they were trading "markings" or their own little "hobo symbols," and one self-described "hobomedic" was sharing his extremely convoluted symbol, saying "if you ever see this, there's medical help available here!"
No idea what "medical help" might mean, but based on his "kit pics" it would involve aspirin, Band-Aids, and holistic oils. Also, the choice of his own convoluted"symbol" over universally recognizable symbols like a + or something has its own implications.
I'm sure there are, but people who are nomadic by choice is not the problem that cities are trying to solve.
The _public_ issue of homelessness results from mental illness and drug addiction and societal restrictions on enforced institutionalization, rather than resulting from free choice or even lack of income.
NOPE. No way, no how, am I enrolling in this.
The data trail that this will create makes my stomach churn.
All I need to get off the street is $1500/mo to meet my needs and interview, well enough to make a first impression. I am there as of Jan with fam and friend support.
In place of taking care of the initial problems (« soaring rents and the difficulty of treating substance abuse, mental illness, and other health concerns » as mentioned in the article), let’s create an app to track people whereabouts! Everything is fine... At least the article tell us this shit doesn’t work.
Europe does stuff like that in case they need some examples to copy.
Understanding the who/when/where of homelessness isn't stupid - Epidemiology is a well-respected field built around just that (for health and diseases, obviously). Certainly part of solving the problem is understanding the distribution of the problem.
Does anyone currently track that information with any appreciable amount of accuracy? If so, I could definitely see this as being pointless. If not, sounds like really useful information to know.
Obviously lots of questions and suspicion here makes sense, like why it's a private company and not an NGO, why they can't anonymously track this information, etc. but "tracking whereabouts" is also a feature of many epidemiological studies.
One of SF's problems is that it's been impossible for the city to meet needs and coordinate care over a sizable population when it can't figure out who needs what and where reliably. The idea here is basically a medical record system so that SF can deliver all the items you so wisely and correctly point to! When you know someone's history, what has and hasn't worked for them, you can figure out how to compassionately delivery to them the treatment, housing, and care they need.
Not only are you right about what's needed, San Francisco is right there with you.