I get journalistic whiplash writing for Battle Born Media newspapers in rural Nevada and San Francisco. After living in Nevada for most of my life and now spending time — more time than I should, perhaps — in the San Francisco area, the approach to almost everything is so different.
Take homelessness during the pandemic, for example.
The problem in rural Nevada — think Ely, Hawthorne, Caliente et al — are quite different in scale from the Bay Area. That stands to reason. But there’s more to it than scale. Nevadans seem to take on the problem as a task at hand for which all in the community must shoulder a part of the load. Afterall, you can’t let a family freeze to death on the town’s main drag in front of God and everybody, can you? You fix that problem by sunset, using the resources at hand be it individual charity, churches or government.
In San Francisco, the community seems more inclined to place the entire burden on the government, which then creates a solution that doesn’t necessarily fix the problem, but makes everyone feel better.
Consider these numbers out of San Francisco.
The city now spends $16.1 million a year to shelter the homeless in 262 tents in empty lots around the city. These tent cities — San Franciscans call them “safe sleeping villages” — provide three meals a day, bathrooms and around-the-clock security.
If you have not done the math already in your head, that means each tent costs the city $61,000 a year. That’s 2.5 times the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.
And here’s the kicker: It doesn’t fix the problem. Not even close.
It organizes a small part of the problem, I grant you that. But for as many people who are living in these gated communities for the homeless, there’s twice as many homeless people in parks and under freeway overpasses. They choose to live there for a variety of reasons. They could easily get into a “safe sleeping village” but they choose not to.
So, please forgive my Nevada bias showing, but two words come to my mind with the San Francisco approach: “Ineffective” and “unsustainable.”
ONE MORE THING
— Rural Nevada has a new COVID protection plan. Rub our hands in manure after each meal. It prevents you from touching your eyes and mouth; it keeps people six feet away from you; no one will want to shake your hand; and you will always wash your hands before you eat.
— I named my two dogs Rolex and Timex. They’re both watch dogs.
— He wrote songs about sewing machines. He was a Singer songwriter sew it seams.
— Could anyone else in the world blend more into this picture than Willie Nelson?
I know my jokes are getting worse. I’ll seek help. In the meanwhile, I’ll pick up my knitting and let myself out. Thanks for reading. Be safe, be kind and mask-up for just a bit longer.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, a newspaper company dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/sherm.frederick/. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)