San Francisco receives backlash for spearheading $5 million program that gives free alcohol to the homeless

News & Politics

A city program that reportedly offers free alcohol to the homeless throughout San Francisco has come under fire after a tech CEO expressed his curiosity about the logic of playing into the addictions that plague city-dwellers, according to the New York Post.

Adam Nathan is the founder and CEO of the AI marketing took called Blaze and the chair of the Salvation Army San Francisco Metro Advisory Board, and he recently took his concerns about the new program to X, writing: “Did you know San Francisco spends $2 million a year on a ‘Managed Alcohol Program?’ It provides free Alcohol to people struggling with chronic alcoholism who are mostly homeless. I stumbled upon the building where they have this program. This is what I saw.”

Nathan’s X thread described how the city was instituting the program, writing that the “location is an old hotel in SOMA. Inside the lobby, they had a kegs set up to taps where they were basically giving out free beer to the homeless who’ve been identified with AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder).”

“Are we just going to manage people’s addictions with our taxpayer dollars in perpetuity forever? It seems like that’s basically what we’re saying.”

Toward the end of Nathan’s thread, he took a poll, asking his followers if they agreed that the city of San Francisco should be handing free alcohol out to city-dwellers like candy. Of the nearly 13,700 users who voted, almost 81% said they did not agree with the move.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Department of Public Health said the program, which started with just 10 beds, has served 55 clients. Now, the program has 20 beds, which ultimately costs about $5 million per year.

Nurses are told to administer certain doses of vodka and beer to those taking part in the program. The report mentioned that this program does not focus on sobriety, but on the participants’ overall health.

However, it is not just Nathan who has taken issue with the odd program. Mayor London Breed said in February that harm reduction was “not reducing the harm,” but instead it has made “things far worse.”

Breed’s move put her in opposition to her own public health department, which insists that harm reduction is the cornerstone of the agency system of care.

Breed previously tried to open abstinence-only housing for those formerly homeless, but the proposal was scrapped after receiving backlash, according to the Chronicle.

“Are we just going to manage people’s addictions with our taxpayer dollars in perpetuity forever? It seems like that’s basically what we’re saying,” Tom Wolf said, who is in recovery from heroin abuse.

“I think we should be spending that money on detox and recovery.”

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