This is reposted from my ProgressiveU.org blog, but I think it's a pretty pertinent complaint to both:

When homelessness crosses the line:

The moment it drives people to ring my doorbell at 1 or 2 in the morning almost regularly is the moment my empathy stops.

Some may have noticed earlier posts bantering with Daimler about homeless people and squirrels, but this is less of a laughing matter. It's one thing for someone to be in their own world in public. It's another for that person to trespass on private property and knock on people's windows when the doorbell is ignored.

A man who I assume is vagrant has, with relative frequency, come to our apartment building (which, mind you, is in a quaint neighborhood about ten blocks south of campus) and rang each of the four units' apartments asking to be let in. The downstairs neighbors have called the police before when he was sleeping in our front yard, but every time he knocks on the door it's a more time-sensitive matter.

I'd like to tell him that frankly, sir, my landlord doesn't run a homeless shelter, and it's unfortunate for you I don't have the authority to let you sleep in the hallway, not only because it's a fire hazard but because we also don't run a hotel. There's a reason the door is locked, and another reason why we're not excited that you're knocking on our bedroom windows while we're trying to sleep. But I would prefer not to engage more actively than a "please leave" with a man of questionable psychosis: he responds like a dog. There's absolutely no verbal or physical recognition of what I've said; he only responds, it appears, to the stern and uninviting tone of my voice.

There is a reason I chose to live so far away from the University-- since People's Park is so close (for those not familiar, it's a park owned by the University dedicated during the 1960s to the public, and currently tends to be the camping grounds for many, many vagrants), the propensity for its occupants to wander around nearby houses and dumpsters is pretty high. I had hoped that the price of a longer walk would avoid that.

But now that the circumference of wandering souls has widened, I don't feel especially safe out here anymore. This is a problem that has been addressed by the mayors of both Berkeley and San Francisco (in fact, mayor Gavin Newsom of SF vowed to "solve homelessness" by the end of his term), but neither has really done much to curb vagrancy/homelessness besides Berkeley mayor Tom Bates trying to instate a civil code for Telegraph Avenue, the main street closest to both campus and People's Park. The civil code merely highlights what is probably already written down, but includes things like "no loitering after x hour" and something about noise and/or spitting...

It's late and I might have been in bed already if it weren't for the adrenaline rush caused by the terrifying and incessant doorbell-ringing at 1:30 this morning, but the point is homelessness isn't just an eyesore anymore-- it's affecting personal safety and privacy in our homes.

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