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Waste of the Day: San Francisco Is Treating Alcoholism with Free Beer



Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise, facing the sun

Topline: San Francisco spends $5 million each year on its “Managed Alcohol Program,” which provides free beer and vodka to homeless addicts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Free beer in San Francisco

Key facts: The small program started in 2020 to help those in isolation suffering from alcohol withdrawal. Now it operates 20 beds in a former hotel, where nurses provide limited amounts of alcohol so homeless residents can fuel their addiction without risking alcohol poisoning.

It made headlines this May after Adam Nathan, chair of the Salvation Army San Francisco Metro Advisory Board, posted on X about watching homeless drunks line up for free beer. Nathan said people “can just walk in and grab a beer,” but the city health department told the San Francisco Chronicle that the program is more controlled than that.

San Francisco treets alcoholism with free beer
Waste of the Day 6.7.24 by Open the Books

Supporters say the program saves money by keeping homeless alcoholics off the streets and decreasing their reliance on emergency services. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital but not necessarily to get them sober.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the program is part of the city’s larger use of “harm reduction.” Other programs give drug addicts clean needles and overdose-reversal drugs instead of promoting abstinence.


Even Mayor London Breed recently came out against harm reduction.

The program has some beds “earmarked to serve the Latinx/Indigenous Mayan community.” The city’s public health system says “Latinx individuals experience worse alcohol related health complications and mortality, face greater criminalization, and have limited access to treatment.”

Program participants are also allowed to use marijuana, according to Fox News, although it’s not provided by the city.

Even a Democrat knows it’s wrong

Critical quote: “As a Democrat, I’m all for directing more government funds to programs that achieve their objectives and provide public benefits … But this isn’t working,” Nathan said on X. “The whole system is incentivized to make money off those people rather than help them get healthy … We are living in the upside down.”

Summary: Alcohol can get expensive, but most privately-owned bars probably wish they had as much cash on hand as San Francisco’s free alcohol program.


The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).


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