Why San Francisco’s Journalists Are Investigating Homelessness

Mother Jones joins dozens of media outlets to look at our city’s biggest problem—and possible solutions.

A woman sits in front of a tent under San Francisco's Central Freeway in March, after the city began clearing out homeless people who had been camping in the area. AP Photo/Ben Margot

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This Wednesday, June 29, Mother Jones will join dozens of Bay Area news and media organizations to begin publishing and airing an ongoing series of stories on homelessness in San Francisco. This push is part of the SF Homeless Project, a recently launched effort whose goals are detailed in the open letter below. Stay tuned as we explore the state of homelessness in our city, as well as its history, causes, and potential solutions.


To the city and people of San Francisco:

Like you, we are frustrated, confused, and dismayed by the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness in our city. Like you, we want answers—and change.

We see the misery around us—the 6,600 or more people who live on the streets of San Francisco—and we sense it is worsening. We feel for the people who live in doorways and under freeways, and for the countless others who teeter on the edge of eviction. We empathize with the EMTs, the nurses and doctors, the social workers, and the police. They are on the front lines of this ongoing human catastrophe.

SF Homless Project

Numerous noble, well-intentioned efforts by both public and private entities have surfaced over the decades, yet the problem persists. It is a situation that would disgrace the government of any city. But in the technological and progressive capital of the nation, it is unconscionable.

So beginning today, more than 70 media organizations are taking the unprecedented step of working together to focus attention on this crucial issue.

We will pool our resources—reporting, data analysis, photojournalism, video, websites—and starting Wednesday, June 29, will publish, broadcast, and share a series of stories across all of our outlets. We intend to explore possible solutions, their costs, and viability.

Fundamentally, we are driven by the desire to stop calling what we see on our streets the new normal.

Though this is a united effort, we do not claim to speak with one voice. There are many lenses through which the issue of homelessness can be viewed. However, we do not intend to let a desire for the perfect solution become the enemy of the good. We want to inspire and incite each other as much as we want to prod city and civic leaders.

Fundamentally, we are driven by the desire to stop calling what we see on our streets the new normal. Frustration and resignation are not a healthy psyche for a city.

Our aim is to provide you with the necessary information and potential options to put San Francisco on a better path. Then it will be up to all of us—citizens, activists, public and private agencies, politicians—to work together to get there.



The SF Homeless Project

@bayareahomeless    |   facebook.com/sfhomelessproject


Mother Jones and its partners:

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Bay Area Reporter

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Commonwealth Club

Cor Media

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Google News Lab




Ingleside-Excelsior Light



KGO 810


KKSF Talk 910






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Marina Times




Mid-Market News

Mission Local

New America Media

Pop-Up Magazine

Renaissance Journalism

Richmond Review

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San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco magazine

San Francisco Neighborhood Newspaper Association

San Francisco Public Press

SF Weekly



Sing Tao Daily

Stories Behind the Fog

Sunset Beacon


Telemundo 48 KSTS

The California Sunday Magazine

The Castro Courier

The Mercury News

The Potrero View


Univision 14 KDTV

Wear Your Voice

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World Journal

Youth Radio


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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