San Francisco's Super Bowl 50
GPS/Flickr

In preparation for Super Bowl 50, San Francisco created a pedestrian-only area geared toward tourists known as “Super Bowl City,” reported the Huffington Post. The plot was located on the Embarcadero waterfront, where several dozen homeless people regularly sleep. During Super Bowl City’s three week lifespan, homeless people in the area were asked to leave and provided temporary housing at Navigation Center, a nearby shelter.

A coalition of local advocates believe that the city should have taken a different approach in preparing for the Super Bowl. Their first suggestion: plan ahead. The NFL chose San Francisco as the Super Bowl host in May 2013, giving them two and a half years to establish programs to address homelessness. The city also spent an estimated $4.8 million on pre-game events, none of which went toward facilities for the homeless community.

One of the biggest struggles for the homeless in San Francisco was having their belongings taken away or ticketed. Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, believes that this only makes the situation worse. “It’s adding criminalization to an already really terrible situation and making it harder to get out of homelessness,” she told Huffington Post.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness, believes the city needs to make a dedicated commitment to ending homelessness, which includes investing in affordable housing and providing the homeless with services such as mental health care, treatment for substance abuse, childcare programs, and job training. “We’re looking for a sustained commitment to end homelessness by the city, and that is something that has not happened,” Friedenbach told Huffington Post.