Bay Area residents are asked to allow vagrants into their homes to tackle homelessness crisis

Local charities are asking families to step in and solve the homeless crisis themselves by taking the homeless into their own homes and spare rooms


                            Bay Area residents are asked to allow vagrants into their homes to tackle homelessness crisis
Aerial view of a temporary sanctioned tent encampment for the homeless on May 18, 2020, in San Francisco, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Bay Area residents are being urged to give their spare rooms over to the less fortunate as the city looks to tackle its rampant homelessness problem.

Local charities are asking families to step in and solve the homeless crisis themselves by taking unhoused people into their own homes and spare rooms, with some schemes reportedly offering little to no compensation. According to the Daily Mail, there are an estimated 30,000 homeless in the five-county Bay Area, comprised of East Bay, North Bay, South Bay, Peninsula, and the city of San Francisco regions.

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Christi Carpenter, the executive director of East Bay nonprofit Safe Times, told Mercury News, "This is something that someone can do when they just feel that despair of 'oh my gosh, I just can't stand seeing these poor people on the streets near my home." The group, which places homeless people in spare bedrooms for one-to-six months, has made more than 60 placements since 2017.

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A homeless man named Joe (R) reads a book under an overpass where he sleeps with a friend on January 25, 2010, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Tom Butt, the mayor of Richmond -- which is about 20 miles downtown from San Francisco -- established a program to match homeless people with local residents and landlords who owned empty apartments. The program offers landlords a year's rent upfront to encourage them to gloss over standard credit, employment, and background checks for tenants. "That's the carrot," Butt told the Daily Mail, adding that they were paid the market rate. "But we have had some landlords come forward and offer it lower, as they want to participate."

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When asked whether people were concerned about the potential dangers of inviting the homeless into their homes, the mayor insisted that people cared more about their plight and life in homeless camps. "They are more concerned with the homeless camps," he said. "People want to see solutions, and want to be part of the solution."

Another nonprofit, the Homecoming Project, is paying homeowners in Alameda and Contra Costa counties $30 a day to house former prisoners in a spare bedroom for six months. Each former inmate is matched with a case manager to help them find a job and save enough money for a permanent home. That said, sex offenders are not eligible for the program.

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Yusuf, vice president of innovation programs at Impact Justice, which runs the project, chimed in, "When we first started talking about this project people thought we were crazy. You're going to put somebody from prison into somebody's house?" However, the group has since housed nearly 70 people, none of whom have gone back to prison. Now, the San Francisco department of homelessness is scheduled to hold a seminar Thursday to encourage landlords to rent out their homes for the less fortunate, on the taxpayer's dime. 

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 A long-standing homeless encampment along Highway 80 on August 9, 2021, in California. (Photo by John G. Mabanglo-Pool/Getty Images)

The aforementioned schemes are aimed at solving San Francisco's homeless problem, which prompted Mayor London Breed to declare a state of emergency in December. More than 8,000 people are reportedly homeless in the city, compared to 5,600 a decade ago. Meanwhile, not everyone is happy with the latest solution. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Richie Greenberg, the only Republican to challenge Breed and her fellow Democrats in the 2018 special election, described the schemes as a publicity stunt and rather "creepy." He argued, "The sheer number of people, and the reasons behind them being homeless, means it won't have an impact."

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