Authorities in San Francisco have been quietly working for some time now on putting together a new system that is going to track every homeless man, woman, and child in the region.
The goal, authorities claim, is to be in a better position to tackle homelessness by using this system to track progress and help them to be more efficient with their resources, tailor housing needs etc.
Eventually, they hope to have the entire system online and operational by early next year.
They've already logged in at least 1,000 individuals into the system, and there are many more to come.
Due to the sensitive nature of the details that would be compiled, that does raise some privacy concerns for the individuals who might not want that information shared.
Authorities hope that the new homeless-tracking system is going to be the answer to help them drastically reduce the number of people living on the street. It's alleged that similar systems have helped to reduce homelessness in areas like Houston, Chicago, and Salt Lake. However, there is conflicting information which suggests that there are still heavily present and rising homeless populations in those regions.
In some cases, folks are asking where the homeless people have gone exactly, after authorities have carried out these “clean-up” efforts that are targeted against them.
Did they leave the state? Are they in treatment? Did they get their own shelter? Were they sent to a different neighborhood? It's unclear.
Anyone familiar with addiction will be well aware that you cannot force someone who isn't ready to get clean and change their life. If that is the motivation fueling this or any anti-homeless initiative, then it is one that is going to fail miserably.
Are these tracking systems going to truly make the difference in turning around the state of affairs for many who are struggling with homelessness right now? The program certainly aims to help the state to boost its control over the homeless population with the data that it's seeking to compile. Can they trust the government to hold this sensitive information about them? Are homeless people not entitled to privacy?
The Underlying Problem...
Some advocates have argued that by offering things like hot showers, meals, and overnight places to stay etc, that this helps yes, but that it is also only aiding and abetting homelessness and not addressing the underlying cause which many suggest is a lack of affordable housing.
Not only that, but many of those in the homeless community also desperately need support services to help them combat addiction, mental illness, or to cope with trying to function in society in a healthy way. Tackling the problem requires a multi-level approach.
It isn't only a few cities in the U.S. that are having to combat this issue either, there are ongoing efforts taking place in cities worldwide that are seeking to tackle homelessness.