A century of overcrowded homes: How we reported the story is critical
The story behind this photo may not ring true: This photo of homes overflowing with “over 100″ people, taken in May, 1917, looks to be from a post-World War I census, when people were not counted. The photo was shown in the Los Angeles Times: “Thousands of people are homeless…a state of affairs apparently due to a shortage of housing.”
The headline in today’s San Francisco Chronicle reads: “Census: Too many people in San Francisco.”
The story from the Los Angeles Times gives this context: “The story of the homeless in this city of 10 million people is a long one and a tragic one.” The photo is in this article from the Times. The photo is in many of the other articles on the city “in crisis.”
In September, a woman at the homeless outreach center where I work put on a black beret and told me that she had decided to take up a cause and help end the homelessness problem by becoming a member of the local chapter of Occupy San Francisco. At the same time, she was running the outreach center for the Homeless Out Loud project, a group that provides food and housing for the homeless in the city.
In all, the homeless population rose by 5 percent in my city this year. According to a recent report from the San Francisco Business Times, homeless services in San Francisco had to make up 3.4 million more dollars this year – as much as they made in the last eight years – than in 2010.
People are homeless in droves because the housing crisis has been getting worse and worse for 25 years. According to one report from the New York Times, the lack of affordable housing makes homelessness more “pervasive” in every metro area in America. The report notes:
“It’s been more than 25 years since the last time the U.S. economy had been this good. … The housing market is booming, the economy is booming, and yet people are homeless.”