Homeless people seeking shelter at night outside a Catholic church in San Francisco over the last year have gotten a rude surprise instead—sprinklers installed above the doors dump water on them repeatedly through the night. TV station KCBS reports that Saint Mary's Cathedral installed the sprinklers specifically to keep the homeless out of its covered doorways, a popular destination because of their relative shelter and safety. The archdiocese issued a statement after the report saying the sprinklers were being removed immediately. The reason? As KCBS also notes, the system was installed without the proper city permits.
The archdiocese explains that it put the sprinklers in place as a "safety, security and cleanliness measure," because the homeless were leaving trash, needles, and other nasty items in places where churchgoers walked. "The idea was not to remove those persons, but to encourage them to relocate to other areas" of the cathedral, says the statement. "We are sorry that our intentions have been misunderstood and recognized the method used was ill-conceived." (Read more homeless stories.)