A Golden State Homeless Epidemic
As always for progressives, it's all about a lack of money — and a lack of compassion.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter approved the shutdown of a homeless encampment located along the Santa Ana River near Anaheim’s Angel Stadium. In its report on the story, Fox News illuminated progressive ideology’s penchant for conflating tolerance with compassion. “Trash trucks and contractors in hazmat gear have descended on the camp and so far removed 250 tons of trash, 1,100 pounds of human waste and 5,000 hypodermic needles,” it revealed.
In contrast to California’s usual approach to the problem — as in letting these camps expand to the point of absurdity — Orange County officials decided enough was enough. “It’s becoming part of the permanent landscape in those communities and there is no way we are going to allow Orange County land that is supposed to be used by residents to be occupied by the homeless,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors member Todd Spitzer.
Unsurprisingly, moving homeless people off public land didn’t sit well with their advocates or the American Civil Liberties Union. The decision to close the camp was made last fall, and the ACLU filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to stop it, claiming the campers were forced into the area by a crackdown on loitering in nearby municipalities. After several stays, the eviction order was ultimately granted.
Yet mediation with Carter engendered viable alternatives for the approximately 700 people forced to move. They were offered the choice between a bed in a shelter or a month-long motel voucher, medical aid including drug treatment, job training, storage for their personal belongings and housing for their pets at the Orange County animal shelter. Moreover in a show of good faith, Carter set up a makeshift, on-site “courtroom” to deal with any ongoing problems. Yet the judge remained firm in allowing deputies to make arrests along the two-mile stretch of riverbed that was once a public bike trail, insisting those campers affected had been given ample notice it was time to move.
Unfortunately, this camp is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As the LA Times reveals, the state has a “staggering homelessness problem that radiates outward for more than 100 miles throughout Los Angeles County and beyond.”
Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. More than 380 miles from LA, San Francisco is now a city where the homeless population is so entrenched, discarded syringes litter many streets, public urination has been tolerated to the point where it has damaged subway elevators, and corroded light poles to the point of collapse, and human feces are so prevalent a broken BART escalator clogged by them required a hazmat team to restore it to working order.
So prevalent, an online map was created to warn residents which feces-contaminated streets to avoid.
What is unavoidable? The consequences of progressive ideological bankruptcy. “Assembly Bill 109, Proposition 47, Proposition 57 decriminalized theft, drug crimes, sex crimes, and emptied out California prisons,” explains columnist Katy Grimes. “The Obama administration policy encouraged states to ignore certain crimes, decriminalize certain crimes, in exchange for receiving extra federal grants … along with a massive homeless population.”
According to coalition of people promoting an initiative called the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018,” what leftist politicians in California define as “non-violent” crimes is appalling. They include human trafficking of a child, rape by intoxication or of an unconscious person, serial arson, felony domestic violence, and abducting a minor for prostitution.
Marc Joffe, director of research at the California Policy Center think tank, cast additional light on the progressive mindset: “As members of a civilized society, there are things you should not accept. But we have ignored that … and there is nobody on the other side setting limits.”
What “other side?” California is a progressive stronghold, where only the resignations of two scandal-scarred representatives temporarily prevent Democrats from enjoying a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the legislature.
Hence, the homeless problem isn’t about decriminalization. As always for progressives, it’s all about a lack of money — and a lack of compassion.
Not exactly. In November 2016, Los Angeles city residents approved Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure property taxpayers will be underwriting for the next 29 years. In March 2017, county voters followed suit with Measure H, a 10-year sales-tax hike that will generate approximately $355 million a year for an array of social services. And while the LA Times labels this an admirable development, it is not enough. Enforced compassion must also be part of the mix: the political class must “stop pandering to the vocal minority of residents who object to housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods,” the paper asserts.
That would be some neighborhoods. As long-time California resident Victor Davis Hanson explains, the state is a “dysfunctional natural paradise in which a group of coastal and governing magnificoes virtue-signal from the world’s most exclusive and beautiful enclaves.”
Such virtue-signaling in lieu of genuine solutions has long been the Golden State’s modus operandi. Thus it should surprise no one that California is home to one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients — and one-fourth of the nation’s homeless population.
And as the the Sacramento Bee reveals, it should also surprise no one that everything old is new again. The paper explains that California has attempted to address its homeless problem since 1993, when it established the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. LAHSA annually administers approximately $243 million in federal, state and local funding contracts to more than 100 service providers.
Yet as the paper notes, the homeless problem is “worse than ever.”
To be fair, other factors are part of the mix. Property values in LA county have soared and “Airbnb had taken 7,316 units off the rental market, the equivalent of seven years’ worth of affordable housing construction,” the paper explains — before getting to the heart of the matter. “Meanwhile, courts have constrained municipal cleanup efforts, and all but barred involuntary commitment of the mentally ill. And connecting people with services only works when there are enough treatment slots and the personal capacity to utilize them.”
This leads the paper to conclude that the biggest problem public officials will have is explaining “what exactly their $4.7 billion in homeless spending is buying.”
Band-aid, feel good solutions, that’s what. In contrast to Orange County’s efforts, LA has installed “hygiene stations” in unincorporated areas of the city. And unlike their coastal “betters,” local residents will be dealing the homeless camps that become permanent fixtures, affecting their quality of life and the value of their real estate.
Nonetheless, the battle lines are coming into focus. Spitzer, a former deputy district attorney, has sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown urging him to declare a state of emergency and reverse the aforementioned laws that eroded criminal penalties prosecutors could use “to force someone into treatment and upon successful treatment, the felony would be dismissed,” Spitzer explained.
Will such a “tough love” approach take root? Not when throwing money at the problem satisfies extremely well paid government officials and their elitist allies almost wholly unaffected by it. It’s what leftist “compassion” is all about.
When will homeless camps and hygiene stations be installed Beverley Hills or Nob Hill? Never would be a good bet.