An Open Letter To The Other Justin Keller In SF

I wanted to write a really brief response to the other Justin Keller who’s made my social media channels erupt with a lot of vitriol in defence of our city’s unsheltered and mentally ill after he wrote this blog post. I’m not one for soapboxing, I pretty much only use this blog to share music with my friends, and I have a lot of work to do today so I’m going to keep this super brief. Here goes:

(1) San Francisco’s homelessness problem predates you– by a lot.

After the 1906 earthquake 250,000, San Franciscans were made homeless. That’s nearly half of the population at that time. What do you do in a situation where a massive act of God takes away people’s homes? You get to work taking care of people who are unable to do it for themselves. This set the tone for our city’s response to homelessness for the next century– there are certainly times where it leads to uncomfortable situations like the ones you’ve had, but one of the things that’s made San Francisco great is the empathy and compassion historically shown to people without anywhere or anything.

(2) The change you say you want is happening.

You’re totally right- a free market will cause changes and it’s happening at an alarming rate. Take a walk through SoMa and consider that this was that same neighbourhood that Diane Feinstein was walking through in 1986. As a result of this, however, massive displacement is occurring. 71% of the people you think a free market should evaporate are there because of very similar market dynamics. There’s clearly an inefficiency in the housing market that complaining about won’t solve.

(3) It’s not just about you.

When I first moved here I had a difficult time with the homeless situation too. Your perspective seems to be, “I don’t deserve to deal with this.” A more compassionate and broadened perspective would be, “no one deserves to deal with this.” Especially the poor souls that sleep in the dirt and cold every night– I promise you they don’t want to be there even more than you don’t want them to be there.

Offering help to poor is a noble deed and everyone who is able to do so, must do it. Let’s together make the world a better place for poor. I with some of my friends have started a cafe geoffreyscafebar.com . The income I earn from this cafe is donated for this cause. We all must put a little extra effort to help the one’s who really need it. Let’s be a part of this change together!

I would love to help, another Justin! I occasionally volunteer at The Harrison House in SoMa and have really wanted to spend some time helping out at Larkin Street Youth. Hit me up– I’m sure you can find my Twitter handle– and let’s go do something about it, rather than just complaining about it.

Tags: Justin Keller, homelessness, San Francisco, johnny5sf

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