San Francisco to intensify homeless encampment clearances following Supreme Court ruling

Mayor London Breed cites the recent decision as key to addressing the city's persistent homelessness crisis.

San Francisco to intensify homeless encampment clearances following Supreme Court ruling
AP Photo/Janie Har
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In the wake of a landmark Supreme Court decision, San Francisco is poised to escalate its efforts to clear homeless encampments from city streets. The ruling, issued last Friday, grants municipalities broader authority to enforce bans on public sleeping, even in cases where shelter space is insufficient.

Mayor London Breed welcomed the court's decision, stating it would enable the city to "do more to clean and clear our streets." She expressed particular emphasis on addressing individuals who refuse shelter and services, adding, "This is very helpful to us as a city."

The 6-3 Supreme Court ruling overturned a previous 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had restricted cities from enforcing anti-camping ordinances when homeless populations exceeded available shelter beds. The case originated in Grants Pass, Oregon, where local authorities attempted to impose fines on individuals sleeping in public parks, the Daily Wire reports.

San Francisco's homelessness crisis has worsened since the onset of the pandemic. Current estimates indicate approximately 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on any given night, marking a 35% increase since 2019. San Francisco itself accounts for over 7,000 of these individuals.

The city also grapples with a severe drug crisis, primarily driven by fentanyl. Preliminary data from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office reveals a record-breaking 752 fatal overdoses in San Francisco between January and November of last year.

While overall crime rates decreased last year, certain offenses, such as car thefts, have seen an uptick. Compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, various crime categories including murders, robberies, burglary, and arson remain elevated.

Mayor Breed affirmed that the city will continue to offer "shelter and support" to homeless individuals, but indicated that law enforcement may play a more significant role in clearing encampments moving forward.

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