ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: SFPD tells woman to 'take a different route' after being attacked by homeless woman

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Homelessness is a major issue in San Francisco. At last count, there are somewhere around 7,500 homeless in the city-- and it's taking a toll.

A San Francisco resident was attacked by a homeless woman who's lived in her neighborhood for three years.

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"She ran down the street and grabbed me by the arms and started screaming at me. Some of it was incoherent. Some of it was about my sunglasses," said Debra Benedict.

Still shaken, she walked on the sidewalk where she was attacked on Friday.

Benedict took photos of her bruised arm after filing a police report. She remembers several neighbors running out to help her.

"I was definitely frightened and I was concerned that I didn't know if she had any weapons," said Benedict.

The suspect is a homeless woman who lives in a tent a block from the Benedict's Dore Street building.

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San Francisco Police Chief, Bill Scott said they're investigating and added, "If we can locate the person and they have committed a crime then we'll do what's appropriate which is to make an arrest. If that's the appropriate thing to do it, but the homeless part has nothing to do with it."

Based on the gravity of the attack, San Francisco police considers this a crime of battery where the suspect can be released on the same day of the arrest.

Several SoMa residents told ABC7 News the suspect has lived in a tent for the last three years and they want her to get help.

According to supervisor Matt Haney, there are more than 3,000 homeless in District 6. Haney is working towards adding a 3rd navigation center in the waterfront, but says the focus is not just to provide housing for the homeless.

"We need more navigation centers and shelters, more supportive housing, and we need a better mental health system," said Haney.

Meanwhile, Debora Benedict is coordinating with neighbors before she leaves her home.

"Often times I'll wait near the corner of Howard or find somebody who is walking towards my building," said Benedict.

Benedict said SFPD told her to take a different route next time.
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