Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Actually, San Francisco is supposed to be a pretty good place if you're homeless

San Francisco library system hires a full-time social worker to help with its homeless problem.

In one of my classes last semester, I read an article about how libraries are often hangouts for the homeless during the day: they're open to the public, have free bathrooms, and of course they're a source of information if you're trying to find out about other shelters in the area, or jobs, or what have you. I'm torn on the subject. Obviously libraries are a public good, and when I say public I mean the entire public, not just the homeowning part of the population. But, well, there's sometimes hygiene problems, and there's patrons complaining, and some of the homeless are going to have mental health problems, and so on and so forth.

Really, the problem is that it's not the library's problem. But until there's enough money for shelters to stay open 24/7 and enough social workers to take care of all the homeless—which should happen as soon as it starts raining solid gold—I applaud the SF library system for treating the problem as best they can.

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