The man Joe Biden is allegedly considering as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should he win the presidency, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has some explaining to do.
In a video obtained by KnockLA, a socialist-leaning website, of a September 23 private, Pre-Election Town Hall sponsored by a large entertainment company, Garcetti made a number of claims that quite probably aren’t true, and had some disparaging words for the City of the Angels’ unhoused population.
In true Beto O’Rourke fashion, Garcetti wants to claim credit for lots of work he hasn’t done, and even for work that hasn’t been done:
Garcetti opens by giving his credentials: he’s been working on homelessness since he was 14, and even “started a group that was building housing” in college. This likely refers to his founding of the Columbia Urban Experience (CUE), a week-long student program at Columbia University that focuses on community service. As of 2019, the volunteer aspect of CUE programs included “urban farming; Planned Parenthood; and Brooklyn Defender Services, which helps with incarceration justice.”
KNOCK.LA was unable to find records of CUE ever “building housing.” We were able to confirm, however, that housing construction is not an area supported by CUE’s typical nonprofit partners. Garcetti did volunteer for Habitat for Humanity around the same time (an organization he did not start), but it’s unclear if he volunteered for the single renovation project the group completed in Manhattan during the early ‘90s.
Addressing the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, which has exploded on Garcetti’s watch, Mr. Mayor admits that he believes that the city “will never solve homelessness on its own,” because its root causes are not within the jurisdiction of the city. Those root causes, Garcetti says, such as abuse in the foster care system, divorce, mental health issues/addiction, and sexual and domestic violence, are things the city can’t do anything about. In his mind, rent control would go a long way toward fixing the problem — as if people struggling with addiction and mental health issues can stay stable long enough to afford cheaper rent. Um, okay.
It’s true that L.A. County runs the foster care system, but to act like the city has no involvement in it and no ability to push for reforms in that extremely broken system is just disingenuous. And, state law hampers the ability of any jurisdiction to admit people with mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction for treatment against their will.
However, Garcetti has allowed homeless people to blatantly disregard city laws and city codes, effectively giving them control of entire city blocks, city parks, and pretty much any open space in the city where one can pitch a tent. While the normal, law-abiding people of the city have to make sure they move their car out of a metered spot the moment their time expires or be subject to a $100+ ticket, homeless people can park their cars/RV’s for weeks on the city’s streets, block doorways with their encampments, shoot up in broad daylight, harass passersby — and the police aren’t allowed to do much.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been thrown at programs to provide “housing first!” or to otherwise “help” people experiencing homelessness. How does Garcetti spend those dollars? With crazy programs like putting porta-potties and showers in areas like Skid Row, so the “unhoused” can be comfortable in their environment, and by building a warehouse filled with rows of rolling trash cans to be used as “storage containers” for the belongings of the unhoused.
Meanwhile, the number of L.A.’s homeless dying on the streets has spiked. In 2019, 1,039 homeless people died on L.A.’s streets.
They died in parking lots, in hospitals, on train station platforms and in encampments. They were still in their teens and well into their 80s. Some died violently of gunshot wounds or a hit-and-run, while many quietly passed away from natural causes or of a drug overdose.
Statistics for 2020 aren’t any better. From Capital & Main:
Since February, the number of homeless people dying every month in L.A. County has been on the rise. In fact, 140 homeless people died in the county last month, a life lost every five hours, according to recent data from the L.A. County Coroner-Medical Examiner’s office obtained by Capital & Main.
That’s a monthly spike greater than any seen in the last three-and-a-half years and perhaps ever. The pre-COVID month that came closest to July was January 2019, when 112 homeless people were reported to have died.
Overall, the county has seen a 23 percent increase in deaths in the first seven months of 2020 when compared to the same period last year.
Wow. It’s universally accepted in Los Angeles that a high percentage of the homeless population are people who are suffering from untreated/uncontrolled mental illness and/or addiction. The only dispute is about how high that percentage is. Still, it’s unconscionable that Garcetti can witness this large-scale suffering on the streets and not look at ways to get treatment for these people, many of whom are clearly unable to take care of their basic needs.
Part of that callousness could be explained by the way in which Garcetti refers to his homeless residents in this video.
From Knock LA:
After hand waving L.A.’s responsibility for the homelessness crisis, Garcetti says, “[t]he City is kind of like, at the Rose Parade, you know those folks who are dressed up in the cowboy outfits but they’re behind the horses? Sweeping up everything that falls out of their rear ends? That’s kind of what the city’s role is when it comes to homelessness. We aren’t necessarily feeding or producing it, but we are having to clean it up.”
Horses**t. He’s explicitly comparing human beings who’ve been failed by the system and denied housing to horses**t. He’s the mayor of a city with an estimated homeless population of at least 41,290, and he’s saying those people are s**t he’d rather not deal with.
I don’t agree with all of Knock LA’s take on this issue, but these human beings have absolutely been failed by the system. When someone is so mentally ill that they will run naked down Sunset Boulevard, festering flesh wounds visible for all to see, and repeatedly refuse help (as has happened recently in Los Angeles), they are unable to make decisions regarding their medical and mental health care, and it is up to society to get them the help they need.
We would never allow an elderly person suffering from dementia, or a young, non-verbal adult with severe autism, or any other disabled person who couldn’t take care of themselves, to live on the streets and call it their choice. Knowing that Garcetti likened society’s role regarding those human beings to someone who walks behind a horse to clean up the s**t (and let’s face it, Garcetti’s administration isn’t even good at that) explains a whole hell of a lot.