Escaping The Death Spiral of San Francisco 

What a shock to wake up in Corvallis, Oregon after being immersed in the problems associated with the beautiful and troubled San Francisco.

What I noticed most when I woke up this morning was that it was so quiet. There were no sirens. No police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks going by with their lights on. No emergencies. No shootings. No problems. I was not glued to the news. I had coffee and looked out over the peaceful garden of the house where my daughter lives with five other girls. She is finishing her senior year at Oregon State University, so our days here are numbered. We spent the day strolling through campus where the most unusual movement was a grey squirrel that darted by. I did not jump. I did not put my head down and try to get through it. I walked my daughter to class and then sat in the Memorial Union. I sat there doing nothing for the first time in a long time. I took the scene in. I wondered if I was feeling nostalgic, but I think it was just an unusual feeling of being completely safe. 

As many know I am from Oregon. My parents retired here when I was six years old and I was raised on a horse ranch with acres of hay and alfalfa. What a wonderful childhood my parents created for me. I will forever be grateful for the foundation that growing up surrounded by animals and acres of orchards and fields provided for me. From there I too went to Oregon State University. There was not a day that I lived there that I did not notice the beauty of the campus and the fields and farms that surrounded it. The campus with plantings by the College of Agriculture bloomed on cue year round. For every season there was something to appreciate. In the fall the leaves would change color and turn the deepest ruby red, orange, and gold. I was warned that they were slipperier than snot and that people would fall down walking through campus in the rain. Even so, it was beautiful. The winter brought trees covered in frost and fog that embraced the brick buildings, spring and summer brought so many beautiful flowers, flowering trees, and shrubs. 

My morning here is in ridiculous contrast to my urban life at home and the issues brewing in San Franciso. The problem is that the troubles of the cities are moving out into the suburbs and college campuses. Corvallis has been largely spared the homeless epidemic, but for the first time, there are homeless people walking through the small downtown with shopping carts here. 

As compassionate people become more and more concerned with their own quality of life they are becoming more involved in shaping a vision for the future. 

Andrew Boozary is a primary care physician in Toronto. He serves as the executive director of the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine at the University Health Network, the largest research hospital in Canada.

“Boozary says it’s not only a matter of social justice, but sound economics. “It could cost about $30,000 or more to have a patient on a hospital ward for a month, or nearly $7,000 to be in a sheltering system for the month versus $2,500 to $2,800 per month for supportive housing,” he says.

Other hospitals in the United States that are getting into the housing business have come to a similar conclusion. “Many hospitals realize it’s cheaper to provide a month of housing than to keep patients for a single night,” Kaiser Health News reports. But while other hospitals have focused on providing temporary housing to homeless people, University Health Network is focusing on making permanent units.”

One of the things I learned in San Francisco is that two homeless gentlemen cost the city over $4,000,000 (4M) in trips to San Francisco General over a four-year period. We must have solid leadership in getting to the root of the problem in San Francisco as we can not continue to spend money and get poor results. Boozary has some good ideas that we can begin to emulate. You can read more about his plans here

We have to begin creating a vision for a future where we can all thrive, but for now, I’m in Corvallis and will enjoy it. 

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