San Francisco Church Saint Mary’s Hoses Down California’s Homeless People As a Deterrent

Homeless people who try to crash at one of the alcoves at a San Francisco church are getting wet surprise: a spout pours water on the alcoves at random times, soaking the people and their belongings, Raw Story is reporting.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral is “one of the principal buildings” of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, according to CBS San Francisco. It has huge alcoves over each of its four doorways, making them a tempting spot for homeless people looking for a little cover.

Saint Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

Although there are signs in the doorways that say “No Trespassing,” there are no signs indicating that trespassers are going to get soaked with water at random times. KCBS reporter Doug Sovern describes what he witnessed at the church:

“The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways.”

An area homeless person, who asked to be identified only as “Robert,” says that the water pouring from the church isn’t going to deter him or any other homeless people from sleeping in the alcoves.

“We’re going to be wet there all night, so hypothermia, cold, all that other stuff could set in. Keeping the church clean, but it could make people sick.”

In fact, it’s not about keeping the church clean – a fact which the Diocese freely admits. Archdiocese spokesperson Chris Lyford confirmed that the purpose of the watering system is to keep the homeless out of the doorways of the church.

“We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person. But there is only so much you can do.”

Lyford says the Diocese tries to help the homeless by referring them to various charities they manage throughout San Francisco – Saint Anthony’s Soup Kitchen for food, for example.

Using water as a deterrent to homeless people is not unique to San Francisco: last Christmas, according to this Inqiusitr report, a store employee in Canterbury, England used a hose to disperse a group of homeless people from in front of the store where he worked.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of San Francisco’s Coalition on Homeless, had some harsh words to say about the church’s homeless-deterrent method.

“It’s very shocking, and very inhumane. There’s not really another way to describe it. Certainly not formed on the basis of Catholic teachings.”

As of this post, the Archdiocese of San Francisco is reviewing the homeless-deterrent watering system at Saint Mary’s and attends to “address” it in some way.

[Images courtesy of: Getty Images/Spencer Platt, Arch 3013]

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