The problem of homelessness in the Marina is a stark contrast to the expensive boutiques and specialty stores that flood Chestnut and Union Street. In an area with such high property values, it’s hard to imagine that even this neighborhood is struggling with the homeless.
Urban Outfitters employee Erin Soden has been working at the Marina location off Fillmore Street for about a year.
“You walk down the street and see a homeless man outside of Wells Fargo and on the same street you could spend $7 on a cupcake,” said Soden.
People often think of homelessness to be an issue that is only in areas like the Civic Center and the Tenderloin, but even a well off neighborhood like the Marina is affected. Local businesses in the Marina experience homelessness the same as any other district.
Soden brought up a specific incident where she experienced a problem directly. She said, “A homeless woman came in and set up camp on the bench in the fitting room. She fell asleep and we had to wake her up and ask her to leave.”
Smitten Ice Cream employee Mariah Carraway works at the location off Chestnut Street. Carraway shared an experience similar to that of Erin Soden’s.
“One lady comes in all the time to use the bathroom but it’s against our policy to let her,” said Carraway.
What is being done to help the homeless and businesses in the area? In an effort to relieve the issue of homelessness District Supervisor Mark Farrell has proposed a city ballot measure, called Proposition Q, that would move the homeless out of encampments and into shelters, supportive services, treatment and housing. Farrell oversees District 2, which includes Presidio, Marina, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Anza Vista, Laurel Heights, Jordan Park, the Lake Street corridor, Sea Cliff and parts of Russian Hill.
District Supervisors Malia Cohen, Katy Tang, and Scott Wiener have supported the measure. However, not all of Farrell’s colleagues endorse Proposition Q. Fellow District Supervisors John Avalos, Eric Mar, and Aaron Peskin have opposed the ballot measure.
Melissa Mendiola is a librarian at the Marina Branch of the San Francisco Public Library who was born and raised in San Francisco.
She said that someone comes in every day looking for resources for the homeless that are provided by the library. At each branch of the public library in San Francisco there is information for the homeless on shelters, soup kitchens and showers.
In reference to homelessness Mendiola said, “Compared to when I was younger, it’s in every neighborhood-not just a few.”
She explains that training on how to dispose of drugs and paraphernalia used to only be at branches of the public library around the Civic Center, but now there is training at every branch in San Francisco.