How Not to Fix the Homeless Problem

How Not to Fix the Homeless Problem

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Above image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay

The Facts

Let’s look at the facts; the primary cause of homelessness is NOT a housing problem, but a drug problem and a mental illness problem. Yet California politics, driven primarily by progressives and the left, continue to spend money on this crisis as if it is a housing problem. According to the California UCLA policy Lab, approximately 3/4 of all homeless have a mental illness, drug addiction, or both.((Christopher Rufo. “What Do We Do About the Homeless?” Online video clip. Youtube. PragerU. 5 July 2021. Web. 28 March 2023.))

To help solve this problem, Governor Newsom wants to build 1,200 tiny homes for the homeless. Building tiny homes for the homeless population in California will only help the unsheltered population; it will do absolutely nothing to help solve the homeless population in California. There is a difference.

Senator Brian Jones of California said, “This is just another band-aid on a crisis that is out of control in California. We know that throwing money at this problem does not work. California has already spent $20 billion over the last five years on homelessness and the crisis has only gotten worse…”1

Senator Jones is correct; according to Cal Matters, a non-profit covering state news, the sheltered homeless has gone from 42,000 in 2019 to 57,000 in 2022. But the unsheltered homeless has gone from 108,000 in 2019 to 117,000 in 2022.((Tobias, Manuela. “California homeless population grew by 22,000 over pandemic.” Cal Matters, calmatters.org, 6 October 2022, https://calmatters.org/housing/2022/10/california-homeless-crisis-latinos/))

Some History

Former Mayor of San Francisco, now Governor of California Gavin Newsom promised to solve homelessness in S.F. Promises are cheap in politics, and most politicians are not held accountable for broken promises. The L.A. Times reported, “Just months after taking office as mayor, Newsom pledged to end chronic homelessness within 10 years — a promise that didn’t pan out. The politician has defended setting the goal, contending that the danger is not in ‘setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark…'”2

Now Newsom, as Governor of California, has promised to reduce the homeless population in California by 15%.((Fox News. “Newsom roasted for latest $30M plan to address homelessness.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, Web. 17 March 2023. 26 March 2023.)) I can’t help but wonder if he is applying the same mindset he did years before as mayor of San Francisco. Fifteen percent is significantly lower than the original 100%. So will he call it a success if he manages to reduce the homeless population by a mere 1%? Frankly, his claim of reducing the homeless population by any % is laughable because it is only going to get worse. Homelessness is a human problem, not a housing problem, and focusing on providing more homes for the homeless does not work. 

The Cicero Institute researches and investigates public policies for the good of society. They encourage transparency, accountability and assess policies (conservative or liberal) that don’t work. They reported, “Several cities and states show the failure of the Housing First approach. San Francisco has built enough permanent housing to house every single chronically homeless individual in the city back in 2011. Yet instead of ‘ending homelessness,’ as then Mayor Gavin Newsom had promised, homelessness increased substantially until the city became an international byword for the homelessness crisis.”((Glock, Judge. “Housing First is a Failure.” Cicero Institute, ciceroinstitute.org, 13 January 2022, https://ciceroinstitute.org/research/housing-first-is-a-failure/))

Other Examples

The state of Arizona has built thousands of homes since 2010 in an effort to end homelessness. In fact, they built enough to house every single homeless person when they began the project, but the number of homeless has increased by 50%.((Glock, Judge. “Housing First is a Failure.” Cicero Institute, ciceroinstitute.org, 13 January 2022, https://ciceroinstitute.org/research/housing-first-is-a-failure/)) Why? Because the homeless will flock to the areas that provide the most permissive environment. Cities like San Francisco have made living there attractive to the homeless, so they naturally move there.

A clearly visible example of this is under Venice Boulevard in Southern California, where you find the border between Los Angeles and Culver City. On the L.A. side, you will find hundreds of tents, shacks, and temporary structures, but the Culver City side is vacant. Can you guess which side has laws against and enforces public camping and drug use and which side turns a blind eye to drug use and homeless encampments? 

Atlanta, a blue city with progressive policies, has completely failed to deal with their homeless population. In the spring of 2022, “…nearly 100 advocates piled into a Senate committee hearing to demand that the legislature stop debate on any new ideas to get the homeless off the streets and into services. Instead, their only prescription was for more money for the same failed policies.”3

No Requirements, No Responsibility

The homeless move to cities that permit their lifestyles, which can be seen all along West Coast. Half of the homeless population in Seattle has moved there in recent years due to the city’s permissive policies.((Christopher Rufo. “What Do We Do About the Homeless?” Online video clip. Youtube. PragerU. 5 July 2021. Web. 28 March 2023.))

Housing First will never work because it ignores the root of the problem, addictions and mental illness. “A recent UCLA study found that more than 75% of this population have a serious mental illness, and 75% have a substance abuse problem, and the majority have both. These individuals are reluctant to accept assistance without mandates and requirements, and a house without such mandates will not encourage use of these services.”((Glock, Judge. “Housing First is a Failure.” Cicero Institute, ciceroinstitute.org, 13 January 2022, https://ciceroinstitute.org/research/housing-first-is-a-failure/))

In fact, if we could wave a magic wand or snap our fingers with the Infinity Stones and instantly provide housing for the homeless, in just a few short years, most of those homes would be uninhabitable. 

The current mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, has learned many of the current housing projects have fallen into complete disrepair. How can we expect those who suffer from mental illness or drug addictions to maintain their homes, apartments, or rooms provided for them if they can’t even care for themselves? Yet she and the rest of her progressive cohorts continue spending money on more housing. “Since entering office, Breed has focused her attention and resources on buying and creating new housing for people currently living on the streets, with more than 3,000 new units opened or under contract since 2018. At the same time, though, The Chronicle found her administration has long neglected the thousands of people languishing in dilapidated hotels.”((Thadani, Trisha. Palomino, Joaquin. “S.F. Mayor Breed promised $5 million to fix crumbling homeless housing. Nothing has been spent so far.” San Francisco Chronicle, 7 February 2023, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/homeless-housing-sro-breed-17767837.php. 28 March 2023))

California has 30% of the entire U.S. homeless population and the progressive policies of recent years have done nothing to reduce this crisis, nor will they. That is if their goal is to make life as easy for the homeless as possible. Instead, the goal should be to help the homeless.

Not Enough Homes, Too Many Guns

I think of the recent school shooting in Nashville and the call by President Biden for more gun control. School shootings were almost non-existent in the 1900s, and gun ownership per capita was higher 50 years ago. 

The California I grew up in has completely changed, much like the city of Fresno. When I was a boy, I would ride my bike all over the Fresno area with little concern for my safety. Yes, that was partly because teens are often clueless. But now teens know there are areas where they would not ride their bike, let alone walk in, even if you offered to pay them. 

I can remember as a teen, racking our shotguns and rifles on the back window of our trucks when we went hunting just outside the city limits. These guns were visible to everyone and a common sight in the 1970s. Guns were accessible to teens who acquired their hunting licenses and could carry them in their vehicles. Our handguns had to be unloaded but placed on the front dash of the truck. 

I had never heard of a mass school shooting when I was growing up. For years now, gun laws have become more restrictive, but we have these mass shootings every year, often at schools or other locations full of soft targets. Guns are the problem? Biden thinks so, and many democratic legislators. Then explain to me why all these red-neck towns throughout America did not experience mass shootings when I was a kid. Guns or gun ownership are not the cause of these mass shootings. It is, at root, a cultural problem, a sin problem. Romans 1:28-32

Newsom remains committed to Housing First; he failed to seize the opportunity to get addicts into recovery. Instead, he and other California leaders gave away free hotel rooms without asking for anything in return. “They’ve missed so many opportunities.” Vicki Westbrook suggests instead of giving them alcohol and all the clean drug paraphernalia, why not offer them drug treatment groups, and case managers?((Shellenberger, Michael. “It’s a Leadership Problem.” San Fran-sicko, Harper Collins Publishers 2021, pgs240-241)) 

Helping The Local Homeless

The best local news I heard this year was Tuolumne County’s decision ‘not’ to purchase the Columbia Inn Motel on Parrotts Ferry Road for 1.65 million. They would have turned it into temporary housing for the homeless.((MacLean, Alex. “Tuolumne Country abandons play to buy Columbia Inn for homeless housing.” 24 February 2023. https://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/article_b5a87f46-b4b0-11ed-906e-7723690ac67d.html. 28 March 2023)) Some of our Supervisors don’t get it. Have they driven to the provided housing in San Francisco and looked at the costs? So the question is, what will they do with the 1.65 million? Use is for housing which will never offer a return on our investment, or will they use it to help individuals step out of the homeless culture of drugs and mental illness? 

But it is not over; our local Supervisor Brian Campbell said, “He believes that the county should purchase smaller properties throughout the county to provide such housing, as opposed to a single place, both for the people who would benefit and for the surrounding community.((MacLean, Alex. “Tuolumne Country abandons play to buy Columbia Inn for homeless housing.” 24 February 2023. https://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/article_b5a87f46-b4b0-11ed-906e-7723690ac67d.html. 28 March 2023)) If our supervisors think providing housing for the homeless is the answer, we will go the way of San Francisco, following Gavin Newsom as he continues his song, leading us away from the root of the problem.

The late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recognized this years ago. He said, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save itself from itself.”4

Culture is downstream of religion, and politics is downstream of culture, and when you look at California’s politics, you can see where the foul waters of the stream are coming from. California is essentially a secular state, and the progressive leftist policies reek of entitlement, addictions, narcissism, dependency, and enabling policies that are detrimental to a society that requires responsibility, accountability, and consequences for poor choices and behavior. 

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How Not to Fix the Homeless Problem by James William Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Fox News. “Newsom roasted for latest $30M plan to address homelessness.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, Web. 17 March 2023. 26 March 2023. []
  2. Smith, Dakota. “Gavin Newsom’s approach to fixing homelessness in San Francisco outraged activists. And he’s proud of it.” Los Angels Times, L.A. 23 October 2018, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gavin-newsom-homelessness-san-francisco-20181023-story.html. 19 March 2023 []
  3. Meyer, Jared. “Trump Is Right About Homelessness.” Forbes, forbes.com, 27 July 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredmeyer/2022/07/27/trump-is-right-about-homelessness/?sh=3bb169ce487a []
  4. Quoted in Joe Klein, “Daniel Patrick Moynihan Was Often Right,” New York Times, 15 May 2021. []

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