The City by the Bay has been dealing with serious homelessness for years, and during the pandemic things have gotten markedly worse.
San Francisco has gone beyond having its everyday poop-in-the-streets problem and rampant drug and alcohol abuse among its homeless population — which, by the way, was enabled when the city's health department announced it would provide free drugs and alcohol to homeless people staying at city-leased hotels in order to keep them from breaking pandemic quarantine requirements.
Now the city is realizing the financial hit it is taking with the longstanding homeless camps it authorized last May with its "safe-sleeping villages" as the state shuttered indoor homeless facilities.
The villages are a network of tent encampments spread across the city that were OK'd at the same time that it began placing hundreds of homeless in hotel rooms and RVs, MarketWatch reported last spring.
Now the financial chickens are coming home to roost.
The 262 tents housing about 300 people in the six tent villages set up around the city to shelter people during the pandemic who might otherwise sleep on the streets are costing taxpayers a pretty penny, KTLA-TV reported last Thursday.
San Francisco is spending $16.1 million annually on these villages, which breaks down to $61,450 per tent — or $5,120 a month for each tent.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, KTLA said, the average cost per night is less than what the city has been paying to put the homeless up in hotels.
However, the hotel program is eligible for federal reimbursement while the tent villages are not, which means the people of San Francisco and their fellow Californians are on the hook for the entire expensive camping program that their city fathers came up with.
But the tent program isn't eligible for federal reimbursement. Some lawmakers say the program is too expensive, especially when the city is facing a projected $650 million budget deficit over the next two years.
“It's eye-popping, and we need to understand why that is," Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said. “We have to find a way to have exits from the streets. But we need them to be more cost-effective."
The program is funded by state and city money and revenue from a 2018 business tax.
According to officials, the heavy financial hit is due largely to the city not doing "a more thorough bidding process."