San Francisco research shows most people homeless due to job loss

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News is joining forces with more than 70 other local news agencies for the San Francisco Homeless Project. It is a plea for city leaders to do something about homelessness in the Bay Area's most densely populated city.

RELATED: ABC7 is proud to participate in the San Francisco Homeless Project

The statistics show that your preconceptions about the causes of homelessness may be wrong.

How they got here goes beyond facts and figures, but numbers do help explain their stories.

Of the Bay Area's three biggest cities, Oakland has 251 homeless people per 100,000 residents, San Jose 346, and San Francisco by far has the most at 795.

RELATED: SF mayor reacts to media coverage on homelessness

According to the city's own research, nearly a quarter of the homeless are on the streets because they lost their job.

"Anybody can fall, no matter who you are," said homeless resident Chalya Broues. "Police, job, God can take it way just like that quick, right then and there."

The other causes of homelessness include alcohol, drug abuse, divorce, and losing housing.

PHOTOS: Plight of the homeless in San Francisco

Without homes, people are turning to tents.

Those tents however are getting a lot of attention. A map shows how complaints about encampments have risen in the last 5 years.

The Department of Public Works cleans up those camps, taking tons of garbage to the dump every week.

RELATED: Tons of waste removed from SF homeless camps weekly

"It is our number one priority to keep people safe," said Rachel Gordon with the SF Department of Public Works.

Calls to 311, the city's clearinghouse for homeless complaints, show just how bad things have become. Complaints about human waste have nearly doubled in the last five years. And calls about hypodermic needles over that same period are up a whopping 680 percent.

"If there is going to be feces on the street, if there's gonna be needles strewn about, if there's gonna be rotting garbage and moldy clothes, we've got to deal with that and make it somewhat acceptable," Gordon said.

ABC7 is proud to participate in the "SF Homeless Project" with more than 60 other media outlets. A letter of intent was released Monday.

Click here for ABC7's full coverage on the SF Homeless Project.
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