Millennial Problems: Solutions to Homelessness

Wednesday marked a big day for local media. In a coordinated effort, nearly every organization that covers San Francisco in some form dedicated a lot to a little coverage of what it’s like to experience homelessness and what can be done about something that almost everyone, including Bernie Sanders, says is a problem here.

The results were mixed, and Gizmodo — which produces content that’s fairly easy for millennials to digest — compiled a greatest-hits list of the coverage so we didn’t have to. Going forward, people are still homeless and the solutions still range from obvious (build homes!) to complicated (addiction treatment) to insane (an algorithm for determining degrees of desperation).

One thing we didn’t see — admittedly, we did not look very hard — were millennials and their feelings on the matter. No one asked millennials what should be done, and that was really silly. Millennials are the now and the future, and their opinions are super-important. After all, they have college degrees.

Lucky for us, the good folks over at the Yik Yak app — you know, that gossip platform that was once big with college kids and is less big now — sent us some recent exchanges between Bay Area millennials on the very topic of homelessness. And while we here at Millennial Problems like to make jokes about young people, we are happy to report that they displayed a lot of empathy for those among us who struggle to survive. Sadly, their ideas feel very Gen X or baby boomer.

-A user named “imsoy” said companies should give homeless people jobs that involve menial tasks such as sorting recyclables or washing windows (the Hollywood version of being homeless) in exchange for lunch.

-An user in San Francisco suggested that the shower-bathroom trucks one can find at festivals would be useful to someone living on the streets. Not a bad idea, except not at all a new one. In fact, a little local outfit called Lava Mae has been doing that for a couple years now — using refurbished Muni buses to boot.

-A user named “markohyeah” offered the idea of the “Leftover Walk.” This would involve packing up the food you don’t want to eat, since you’re just drowning in food as a non-homeless person, and pass it around for whomever wants it. “Don’t like what I have? Maybe try what another person brought.” Good idea, ohyeah. I think this kinda thing happens already, and there are those soup kitchens and stuff.

-And another user, this one from Berkeley, pointed out that “the homeless population in SF is more sick mentally than those elsewhere,” and presumably something should be done about it. What exactly, this millennial did not say.

Homelessness is the last thing to laugh at of make light of, and it’s clear no one wants to do that. It’s just that no matter how clever or creative an idea you might have, there’s really only one proven way to get someone out of the homelessness experience: give them a home. The government used to do it, then it stopped. Maybe we should start by changing that.

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