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January 31, 2020

‘Compassionate’ Dems Just Can’t Solve Homelessness

The problem needs innovative solutions, not just more taxpayer dollars wasted.

The problem of homelessness in Los Angeles has drawn national and global attention in recent years. Some of the city’s streets are lined with makeshift dwellings and blighted by needles and human feces. The threat of disease is very real, and the city’s residents have reached the breaking point.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “As people living in tents, RVs and makeshift shelters become a fact of life in neighborhoods far and wide, homelessness is now an all-consuming issue in Los Angeles County, with 95% of voters calling it a serious or very serious problem,” according to a new poll conducted for the Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute.

“The courts have upheld the rights of homeless people in recent years,” adds the Times, “saying that cities cannot ban sleeping in public unless they provide enough beds for those who want them.” Along these lines, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in December 2019 not to take up a lower court’s ruling protecting the homeless from prosecution for sleeping outside.

Of course, we can neither round up and imprison the homeless nor simply ignore them. And the crisis has gotten the attention of President Trump, who threatened the city with federal intervention.

But those bold steps were stopped by Congress in December, which voted to restrict how the administration could spend federal funds designed to alleviate conditions in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, as The Washington Post reports, “Administration officials now hope to work closely with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). They are considering whether to send hundreds of federal workers and additional money for services if a deal can be reached.”

When it comes to addressing homelessness, money appears to be the primary consideration. Phillip Molnar writes at The San Diego Union-Tribune, “San Diego, and other California cities, have spent millions of tax dollars on the homeless issue, including shelters, storage facilities and numerous programs.”

Money and new legislation clearly aren’t enough, especially when so-called leaders enact bad laws that make matters worse.

Thus, to the north in Washington state, Republicans are taking a more comprehensive approach to homelessness that goes beyond merely throwing money at the problem. As Seattle’s Ashley Archibald writes, “A group of Senate Republicans held a press conference Jan. 21 to articulate their vision of how to end homelessness in Washington, which would rely on existing funding and could strip the progressive stronghold of Seattle and King County of some authority to implement its own existing policies.”

Archibald adds, “One such proposal, the SHELTER — Serious Homelessness Engagement Leads to Effective Results — Act from Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn), would require counties of a certain size to have at least one large shelter facility, guarded by police, that would also have counseling and job services at hand.”

On the other side of the country, New York City houses the homeless in shelters and, for nearly 50 years, in commercial hotel rooms. But Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to end that practice by 2023 as part of the city’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness plan, a costly initiative that seeks to address the complexities of the problem.

These innovative ideas won’t end homelessness in America, but focusing on the root causes is a good start — and a far better alternative to allowing homeless tent villages to spring up on city streets, bringing lawlessness, violence, drug use, and disease.

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