Worsening homelessness hurting Castro district businesses, tourism

Residents and businesses in San Francisco's Castro district say an influx of homeless is impacting the neighborhood. Neighbors have been posting their concerns about Jane Warner Plaza saying an influx of homeless is intimidating visitors and hurting business.

Neighbors say the plaza has become a magnet for homeless and that is having an impact on the Castro district at large.

"The thing that's most distressing is the obvious psychological problems and when people are acting out," said Ken Siebert.

Neighbors worry that it's already intimidating tourists visiting the area, and say some get off the famous Muni F-line and, seeing themselves surrounded by homeless, simply turn around rather than stick around.

"I can understand tourists, like, 'what is going on?'" said Siebert.

Businesses say they've also noticed the increase in homelessness, and its effect on business.

"It's not good for business," said Martin Mendoza, owner of Louie's Barber Shop. "The tourists they don't come to the neighborhood as they used to because they don't feel safe."

Mendoza says wants to see a solution that helps businesses, residents, visitors and the homeless. But, so far, he says the situation isn't getting any better.

"Actually in the last three years it has been worse and worse and worse," said Mendoza.

The Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District is already working to support businesses, and clean up trash left in the area, and even has a outreach program called Castro Cares. But, the district says it needs more support.

"We don't have access to beds whether they're mental health beds or psych emergency beds," said Andrea Aiello from the Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District. "The city needs to do that. So we want to be able to use Castro Cares to refer people."

The benefit district says they'd like to see more police specifically along Market Street, and are also looking for legislation that would discourage people from sleeping at the park in the day, to make the area more welcoming to everyone.