The city rakes in $51m (£39m) each year from the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference despite growing concerns about the city’s homeless population among attendees of the healthcare industry’s leading conference, according to Bloomberg News.
The nearly 10,000 attendees have regularly criticised San Francisco’s homeless crisis, Bloomberg reported, with one CEO describing it to the news outlet as “the Bill Clinton of cities”.
“San Francisco has squandered its place in the sun,” said John Price, CEO of the genetic engineering company Greffex Inc. “San Francisco is the Bill Clinton of cities. It squandered itself with its flaws.”
Selin Kurnaz, CEO of Massive Bio, also told Bloomberg she has felt increasingly “unsafe” in San Francisco while attending the conference over the years.
“I’ve been coming to JPM for five years, and the homeless situation has gotten much worse,” she said. “I feel unsafe walking around at night, especially as a young woman.”
Oracle Corporation, which hosts a premier industry event called the OpenWorld conference annually in San Francsico, announced it would relocate this year’s event to Las Vegas, citing street conditions and hotel pricing.
“My dream would be that they’d see this as an opportunity to reflect on the humanity of others,” Kelly Cutler, an organiser with the Coalition on Homelessness, told the news outlet.
She added: “I feel like it’s a missed opportunity when people are just seeing the homeless as a nuisance and trash and seeing the solution as just sweeping them away.
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, told Fox Business in an interview on Tuesday that, while the financial institution would become “deeply involved” in San Francisco, complaints from attendees were “not quite that bad”.
He said those attending the event “know where they’re going” and “plan for it the same time of the year”, while acknowledging the city has faced an increasing issue of homelessness.
Despite city officials launching new efforts to tackle the problem of homelessness — including major initiatives and spending over $300m (£230.1m) in its efforts — San Francisco has housed 27,000 homeless people throughout the past 15 years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Homelessness has reportedly increased somewhat in recent years across San Francisco, though it remains lower than record-levels recorded in the early 2000s. Meanwhile, the city’s overall population has reportedly increased by more than 100,000 people over the last 15 years.