San Francisco Mayor London Breed, in her first one-on-one interview since taking office, said homeless advocacy groups that receive funding from the city need to better educate the homeless to "clean up after themselves."
"I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community — at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood," Breed told the Investigative Unit, referencing her conversations with nonprofit groups aimed at serving the homeless.
When pressed about whether her plan calls for harsher penalties against those who litter or defecate on city streets, Breed said "I didn’t express anything about a penalty." Instead, the mayor said she has encouraged nonprofits "to talk to their clients, who, unfortunately, were mostly responsible for the conditions of our streets."
Viral Investigation Exposed San Francisco's 'Diseased Streets'
A recent NBC Bay Area investigation went viral after exposing an alarming amount of trash, drug needles, and feces scattered across San Francisco.
The report centered around a 153-block survey of downtown San Francisco, which revealed trash on every block, 100 needles, and more than 300 piles of feces along the 20-mile stretch of streets and sidewalks.
On Friday, two days after Breed's inauguration, the new mayor during an afternoon stroll saw firsthand the reality and challenges of the city. Video recorded by NBC Bay Area shows a man prepping a needle as Breed walked by.
More Feces on Sidewalks
"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here," Breed said. "That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans."
San Francisco is slated to spend nearly $280 million this year on housing and services for the homeless — a roughly 40 percent increase compared to just five years ago. Over that same span, however, the number of homeless in the city has largely remained the same at about 7,500 people, according to city counts.
"About 70 percent of the people estimated to be homeless in San Francisco were actually housed in San Francisco before they became homeless," Breed said. "We have to make sure people who live here, [and] sadly, people who are homeless here, that they are also held accountable for taking care of our streets. This is our home."
City’s Street Cleaning Budget Slated for 20 percent Boost
San Francisco spent $65 million on street cleaning last year and plans to add nearly $13 million in additional spending over the next two years.
"I don’t think that the city is poorly spending what it already has," Breed said. "I spend a lot of time on Fillmore Street. I see the people who are part of a program, out there power washing. They’re out there doing what they can to keep the community clean, almost every day, and then right after they leave, maybe an hour or two later, the place is filled with trash again."