Diary

Homeless people in LA and the law of unintended consequences

We could call this CBS LA report an on-going lesson on unintended consequences. I’ll be liberal with blockquotes over paraphrasing because you’d think I’m overstating the stupidity.

Homeless population figures

The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that 57,794 people are living on the streets of L.A. County, a 23 percent jump from the year before. Within the city of L.A., that number is more than 34,100.

I love how it’s 57,794 people and not say 57,800.

Throwing long-term money at the problem

In November 2016, L.A. voters passed Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the homeless, but the units will take years to approve and build.

In March 2017, L.A. County voters adopted Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs. It is meant to generate $355 million annually for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness.

Let’s see… that’s $1.2B borrowed that taxpayers will have to repay while they are forking over an extra $3.5B in sales taxes.

Throwing short-term money at the problem

The city has explored multiple options for dealing with its growing homeless population. In February, the council unanimously approved putting about 60 homeless people in trailers on a downtown lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets. The trailers, which contain bathrooms, showers and beds, are expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $1 million to operate.

That’s $3M to cover under 0.2% of the city’s homeless at $50K each. Meanwhile the businesses hear the trailer say it’s killing them (and therefore the tax revenue they generate directly via sales and indirectly via jobs). Mayor Gil Garcetti’s response is that these business owners need to STFU.

Asking the impossible

The motion being considered Friday seeks a number of actions from the L.A. Homeless Services Authority and from some city departments. With city assistance, the authority would be asked to provide several comprehensive reports within 14 days, including the framework for an Emergency Response Homeless Plan, outlining what steps and what funds would be required to provide an alternative to homeless encampments for 100 percent of the homeless population by the end of the year.

OMG how freaking stupid is this? In two weeks city staff is supposed to be able to figure out how to get all the homeless off the street in under nine months and at what cost. It doesn’t take a genius to know this report will be a total batch of BS pulled out of the air. They should hire me and I could give them an answer: charter planes and crews to fly all the homeless to San Francisco a planeload at a time. It’d be cheaper and more effective that whatever they come up with.

Meanwhile there’s that lawsuit to fight

The homelessness crisis has plagued the entire Southland. In February, hundreds of homeless people were removed from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed, prompting a lawsuit from homeless advocates.

The transients who were cleared out were given motel vouchers as part of a deal worked out in federal court. But those vouchers are expiring, and Orange County and city officials have been scrambling to come up with a permanent housing solution for them.

Motel vouchers for hundreds of homeless equals more money getting thrown down the toilet, just like the people using the vouchers are about to get thrown back out onto the street.

Surely they are looking at other alternatives

Another proposal would convert hotels into permanent housing.

That would make it more expensive for people to visit if hotel rooms are removed from circulation. Most rooms wouldn’t have kitchens at all nor sufficient closet or storage space but hey it sounds simple if you don’t think about it.

Proposals to move the homeless to temporary locations in Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Irvine have been met with large protests from local residents.

Imagine that. I’d think these residents would get the same treatment as LA’s business owners.

I forgot to mention how they got here

The Los Angeles City Council Friday is considering a motion that would enact a plan to provide housing for every transient in the city, as it continues to grapple with a housing shortage which has spiked rents and sent thousands of people into homelessness.

The motion, introduced last month by Councilmen Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, says there is little evidence that anything is being done to create or improve shelters for the homeless in the city and that a true sense of emergency is needed to deal with the problem.

So the housing shortage is spiking rents, forcing people out of houses. What will raising taxes to pay for the billions of dollars committed – despite no “true sense of emergency” apparently – do to rent prices, cost of goods, etc.? They can only go up up UP! right? That will force more people out of their homes and continue the vicious cycle.

What about other unintended consequences?

Just because people are homeless or poor or immigrants or whatever the case may be doesn’t make them stupid. If LA decides it’s going to provide “free” housing to every homeless person and I’m a homeless person in San Diego or San Francisco or Nevada or … or Mexico, you can bet I will find a way to get to LA so I can get my free housing too. And given LA is a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state it makes it even more inviting to leeches.