Bay Area: UN Reports Conditions Are Cruel and Inhuman for the Homeless

The Bay Area’s “cruel and inhuman” conditions for homeless residents violate a number of human rights, according to a report by UN Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha.

Farha reported her findings to the UN, after reporting previously that homeless residents in San Francisco and Oakland have been denied “access to water, sanitation and health services, and other basic necessities.”

In January, she assessed the Bay Area’s homeless encampments, which are teeming with trash, feces, and discarded needles. In Oakland, Farha witnessed rats digging through the mud and families camped outside in the cold.

These conditions led her to group San Francisco alongside cities like Mumbai and Delhi, which are known for some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. In a statement from the beginning of the year, Farha compared the Oakland camps to a low-income dwelling in Mexico City that had no running water and was forced to steal electricity.

It’s not the first time these human rights violations have been pointed out. Farha’s report calls for policies and programs to address these issues. In the past, she has criticized laws that criminalize homelessness. Farha has called on the Bay Area to provide more affordable housing.

“If I turned to San Francisco and there were 100 people who were homeless…I might be able to say that it is very individualized,” she said. “But when you’re seeing the numbers of people who are homeless here and in every other city, you just know it’s structural.”



Photo:“San Francisco Homeless” byChristopher Michel is licensed underCC BY 2.0