Anyone who’s visited San Francisco knows that city’s homeless problem is like no other, and this week the SF Chronicle addressed the problem with a series that can be difficult to read, but is worth your time.
What’s even more interesting is the reaction to it. Romenesko reports there were picketers, but I found the transcript of the online chat with the lead reporter even more enlightening — early on, they were assailed by an advocate for the city’s “mobile residents.”
Yes, “mobile residents.” Now there’s a euphemism for you.
Anyway, I read the Sunday kick-off piece, and it was both horrifying and, I regret to say, not too surprising. Concentrating on a knot of homeless people who sleep on a city traffic island, it introduced us to the group’s leader, who died of a necrotizing bacterial infection long before the stories ran:
It was the leg that did it. He had been letting it go for years.
The last time the leg got badly infected was in February, and he spent weeks in the hospital. But after being patched up and released, he was back out on the street. He’d bandage the wound, but then unwrap it when he wanted to get high.
“I kind of like it being open because I can shoot straight into the vein, ” he said last summer, while he fingered a fat vein pulsing up through the open flesh. He was sitting on the Island with people walking by — none of whom seemed to notice him or his leg or the syringes dotting the dirt under the trees. “Gets me well (high on heroin) quicker.”
Good God. There has to be another way.