This issue is directed to my fellow hosts in San Francisco. After my guest's first full day of sightseeing, when we're chatting in the kitchen over breakfast in the morning or over a glass of wine in the evening, I very often hear this, especially from my foreign guests: "San Francisco is so beautiful, but we're shocked by the number of homeless in the streets. What's going on?". This comment is so common that I now pre-empt the inevitable by talking about the homeless issue before my guests leave the house for the first time, usually along the lines of , "You will see many homeless people in the streets. California has a severe affordable housing crisis, and San Francisco is the epicenter. The city is simply too expensive for the working and middle class, and there isn't enough shelter space or beds in mental health facilities or drug treatment centers to accomodate the need. The city spends many millions a year on alleviating the crisis, but we don't get enough help at the federal level. While disturbing to see, the homeless will not harm you and there's no need to be afraid". That usually leads into a longer conversation about homelessness in general and their own experiences in their home countries. I also tell them that since San Francisco is a geographically small city (7 miles x 7 miles), the homeless are very concentrated in the Northeast quadrant of the city where many of the tourist sites are. How do other guests address this issue? I recently got a 5 star review from a guest that alluded to the problem: "We absolutely loved staying at Michael’s apartment. He is an extremely welcoming host. The apartment is beautiful. There is such fascinating artwork to look at everywhere and it is spotlessly clean. The bed is extremely comfortable and we really enjoyed the breakfast. We would definitely stay here again- although we would use Uber to get around. We walked all the way down Mission Street not knowing what to expect before we started. It was certainly an eye opening experience to the other side of San Fransisco!". I wish the guest hadn't mentioned a problem that I have absolutely no control over, but at least she didn't go into too much detail. Hopefully whoever is elected our new Mayor next week will address this crisis.
Micheal, (cannot tag) homelessness is a big problem in Albuquerque, as well, as we are at major NS and EW interstates and have relatively mild weather. It is obvious that there are homeless everywhere in the city, especially near the tourist areas.
I have not yet had a guest complain. And they should not. It is a major epidemic iacross the USA, so at least Americans should be aware of that. I think you are smart to bring up the issue to your guests, for those completely unaware.
Hope that you did not see any negative feedback in their review of your place!
That's a pretty long inaccurate description of the problem. Keep it simple -- SF has some of the most relaxed attitudes and gracious programs in the country for peope who can't take care of themselves, so they congregate there.
Inaccurate? I don't know what California you live in, but if you're not aware of the housing crisis then you must live in the High Sierras.
I agree with you @Michael956 Have family in the area and it is a constant complaint about having to move farther and farther away to find something decent - which creates long commutes. And don't get me started about Zombie houses (bought up by foreign speculative investors who then don't live in, or rent, the house). Recently saw a documentary about developers buying up affordable housing to put up luxury condos.
Keep preaching. The affordable housing crisis is growing.
And air bnb hosts, including myself, don’t exacerbate the housing crisis?
It is a very tricky situation indeed for all concerned.
All I can say is that it’s a global problem
In Paris, homeless and beggars are quite numerous.
Only one couple from the USA told me about it.
Probably because as we 'met' on the Airbnb forum (later, they came to my home with Airbnb), we used to speak more freely.
We are accustomed to them as poor and rich people live in Paris since ever.
The book 'les miserables' describe it well.
Parisians are accustomed to them.
But for people who don't live in big cities, it can be surprising.
Our new mayor was quick to create "density" zones along Fillmore and Divisadero streets, but failed to include mandatory moderate and low income units, as did other supervisors who also created density zones in their districts. She's the candadate who ran on creating more housing for the homeless and working San Franciscans.
I tell my guests that Ronal Reagan implimented closing mental institutions in California when he was governor and that people have the legal right to stay out of a hospital or undergo psychiatric care and they end up on the streets. I would caution guests to just move on, but I would not tell them that some of these people are harmless. Remember that guy in Soma that was found with a dismembered torso in a suitcase? How about the guy 10 or so years ago who randomly stabbed a
person on the bus?
There was an article in the UK media about how bad it is now, admittedly Denver has a similar issues with druggies etc, but maybe not San Fran levels.
I thought it was the ACLU who got the legislation repealled?
I live in Oakland and recently had a guest cancel their week-long stay because we live nearby some homeless folks. Seriously, she and her partner cancelled within 10 minutes of being here. She even left us a bad review because of it and stated that it was "disingenuous" of me not to mention this in my posting! She was clearly very uninformed of the area, exaggerated the amount of folks living there (called it a "tent city" - there's about 5 tents), blamed me for not filling her in & stated that my posting was inaccurate because the area was "unwalkable."
I'm a relatively new host, but I found this to be negligent on her part & incredibly discriminatory/insulting to my home & my neighborhood. We are very close to both Downtown Oakland & a BART station so I assumed people would take into consideration the housing crisis & this being a major metropolitan area.
I am now finding myself giving guests a "heads up" about the homeless folks around the corner but wondered what other hosts in Oakland & SF are doing to mitigate a bad review because someone doesn't like homeless people.
Hi @Maya112 - I worry about this too. I live in Inglewood, CA and homeless can be found around. My specific neighborhood has a pretty low crime rate but there are pockets of Inglewood that don't. Even then, homeless come wandering down the alley next to my home looking in our garbage. I am from LA so this isn't that unusual to see but I do imagine it may give some folks pause. So far I think I have been pretty lucky - no public comments in reviews- I try to avoid sending guests walking towards places where I know they will pass a lot of homeless. Or I'll advise against women walking alone late at night. I imagine at some point I will get feedback but fingers crossed hope not.
It seems to be working out for you so far! I'm hoping this was just a bad apple - she did not read my house rules stating that I lived near the freeways & there was a potential for noise and immediately stated that as the reason for the cancellation. As I tried to work things out, the homeless topic came up & I realized there was no convincing her. She also stated repeatedly that she did not want to leave a review and she understood there would be a penalty fee for her cancellation. Airbnb mediated and paid me out for the night + $200 for the time, money and energy into preparing the room. The next morning, I woke up to a money request for a refund for the cancelled night's stay. She then went on to leave me a bad/inaccurate review (which I am currently disputing), but the rest of my reviews have been great.
As someone who also travels, I believe the onus is on the guest to determine what is and isn't considered safe for them - like if I have a fear or particular distaste for homeless folks, then I should be the one taking necessary precautions to avoid areas where they might live aka not booking something in the heart of the city. None of the hotels in Downtown SF are going to warn you of homeless folks there, either. We'll see if Airbnb also sees things this way...
@Maya112 That's terrible that those guests punished you for something you have no control over and something that one sees in all major cities. People like that should stay in their suburban gated communities.
perhaps a more accurate description under location may forewarn guests from other countries and cultures of possible ‘shocks’ when visiting a location such as San Fransisco .....particularly those who were avid viewers of the tv program Streets of San Fransisco starring Micheal Douglas....shot in the 1980s.......?.
Its like people visiting Scotland thinking we all wear tartan, hunt haggis and sing the Harry Lauder song “We’re roamin’ In the gloamin’.....” or heavens forbid ......are all descendants of Braveheart......starting our own “Hollywood Scotsman “....the Aussie Mel Gibson!