Before crafting a comprehensive and long-range strategy to target homelessness, it helps to be familiar with its history in San Francisco.
A combination of historical forces in the 1980s led to its gradual assimilation into the city's "culture" - social, economic and cultural transformations coupled with the popularity of new drugs and the influx of Vietnam veterans all played a part in shaping San Francisco's liberal character which attracts a lot of 'drifters'. Currently, homelessness is intensified by the closure of mental hospitals, inadequacies in the prison system, and lack of affordable housing. The general policy solution advocated by former officials range from aggressive criminalization of the homeless to investment in "supportive housing initiatives", health and treatment services and the payment of cash welfare benefits. But do these suffice?
The first step is to acknowledge the ideological conflict regarding how "homelessness" is framed in order to arrive at a general consensus on how to create a practical homeless policy. Homelessness is not an isolated, discrete problem but is inseparable from issues of poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, gentrification, stagnant wage growth, etc.