San Francisco has been declared one of the filthiest slums in the world following an investigation.
The California city has been found to have dirtier conditions than slums found in third world countries such as India or Kenya.
According to an investigation by NBC, large areas of the city are covered in needles and feces, as hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of patients that have fallen ill as a result of the contamination from the third-world living conditions.
How dirty is San Francisco?
NBC reports: An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco.
The Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of the city – the more than 20-mile stretch includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and major hotel chains. The area – bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue – is also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.
As the Investigative Unit photographed nearly a dozen hypodermic needles scattered across one block, a group of preschool students happened to walk by on their way to an afternoon field trip to city hall.
“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” said teacher Adelita Orellana.
“Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”
In light of the dangerous conditions, part of Orellana’s responsibilities now includes teaching young children how to avoid the contamination.
‘There’s Poop in There’
“The floor is dirty,” said A’Nylah Reed, a 3-year-old student at the preschool, who irately explained having to navigate dirty conditions on her walks to school.
“There is poop in there,” she exclaimed.
“That makes me angry.”
Kim Davenport, A’nyla’s mother, often walks her daughter to the Compass preschool on Leavenworth Street in San Francisco.
She said she often has to pull her daughter out of the way in order to keep her from stepping on needles and human waste.
“I just had to do that this morning!”
The Investigative Unit spent three days assessing conditions on the streets of downtown San Francisco and discovered trash on each of the 153 blocks surveyed.
While some streets were littered with items as small as a candy wrapper, the vast majority of trash found included large heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk.
The investigation also found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown.
Reports to 311 of Needles and Human Waste in San Francisco Have Steadily Risen Since 2008.
San Francisco Compared to Some of the Dirtiest Slums in the World
Based on the findings of the Investigative Unit survey, Riley believes parts of the city may be even dirtier than slums in some developing countries.
He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable.
Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another.
The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.
Supervisor Hilary Ronen believes San Francisco has been too focused on permanent housing for the homeless and that the city has neglected to provide enough temporary shelter, which can provide the homeless a respite from the streets.
The city currently has about 2,000 temporary beds. Ronen, however, believes an additional 1,000 are needed, at a cost of about $25 million.
‘Human Tragedy’ in San Francisco
Until the problem is fixed, Mohammed Nuru, the Director of the Public Works Department, is charged with the towering task of cleaning the streets, over and over again.
The 2016-2017 budget for San Francisco Public Works includes $60.1 million for “Street Environmental Services.”
The budget has nearly doubled over the past five years. Originally, that money was intended to clean streets, not sidewalks.
According to city ordinances, sidewalks are the responsibility of property owners. However, due to the severity of the contamination in San Francisco, Public Works has inherited the problem of washing sidewalks.
Nuru estimates that half of his street cleaning budget – about $30 million – goes towards cleaning up feces and needles from homeless encampments and sidewalks.
A single pile of human waste, said Nuru, takes at least 30 minutes for one of his staffers to clean.