Someone Else’s Shoes: SF’s Underbelly

AMANDA WITHERELL AND BRYAN Cohen, in the true fashion of investigative journalism, spent a week in and out of San Francisco’s homeless shelters getting an unfiltered look at life on the streets. The SF Bay Guardian reporters chronicled their harrying experience on separate blogs, and Witherell wrote a compelling piece for the paper that sharply dissected the local homelessness situation.

The two discovered firsthand that despite the presence of empty beds cross the city, a breakdown in communication among a network of shelters means night after night people are forced either to doze fitfully in the equivalent of a waiting room or to find an empty patch of sidewalk. It took Cohen five days to find a bed. When they did successfully navigate the confusing shelter system, the reporters were often met with terrible smells and grudging staff, only to be briskly ushered out into the cold morning at six o’clock. The article paints a grim and honest picture of the crushing struggle so many face, and scratches at our sense of common human dignity. An absolutely essential read.

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3 Responses to “Someone Else’s Shoes: SF’s Underbelly”


  1. 1 Kango Suz February 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the link to that amazing article. What a truly inspiring piece. I’ve worked with many homeless persons throughout my career and the injustices that cities greet them with (because capitalism insists that it is their own fault they’re homeless) is truly atrocious. In Chicago, where I lived recently, the most recent solution to homelessness was to tear down low-income housing and force shelters to close because they created ‘bad neighborhoods’ in their surrounding communities. At least in SF there are empty beds to be had. In Chicago there was about 1 bed to every 3 homeless persons. And almost no beds for men. Truly horrid. Thanks again, as always, for your thoughtful posts.

  2. 2 Timothy K. Hamilton March 9, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Please put an attribution next to my photo, as required by my Creative Commons license.
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en
    It should read “Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton”
    Thank you, and thanks for using my photo.

  3. 3 dailytransit March 9, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Timothy — I apologize. I didn’t look at your flickr profile and thus wasn’t aware of your stipulations regarding attribution. I’m changing it now. Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for allowing me to use the photo; it’s a powerful capture.


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