L.A. voters think money spent on homelessness is going down a rat hole

The homelessness problem in Los Angeles has reached epic proportions. Granted, they’re hardly the only city on the left coast facing these issues but’s particularly bad in the City of Angels. This has led to chronic problems with crime, filth and disease. So are they doing anything about it?

It turns out they have been. Several programs have been funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, aiming to provide more shelter beds, housing and rent subsidies. But it hasn’t been enough. In the past three years, despite all of these projects, the number of homeless on the streets has actually increased by 12%. A recent poll of Angelinos shows that they definitely think this is a crisis and something must be done, but first and foremost, they believe that the city needs to stop wasting the money and start spending it more wisely. (LA Times)

As homelessness has exploded in Los Angeles in recent years, taxpayers have been willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on housing, shelters and services to help get people off the streets.

But a new poll shows that a broad majority of voters think the city and county have been ineffective in spending that money and that new policies are needed to address a crisis that they now equate with a natural disaster.

The poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute of 901 voters registered countywide, found that Angelenos are generally frustrated and impatient with the government’s response to homelessness.

It’s not that residents haven’t been willing to pay up in an effort to solve this problem. Three years ago they approved a $1.2-billion bond authorization to subsidize the construction of permanent housing for homeless people. The following year they gave the thumbs up to another program allocating $359 million annually for additional homeless services. But now it’s 2019 and none of the new housing is complete and the streets are more crowded than ever.

Looking into the details of the poll, there is broad support for initiatives such as a “right-to-shelter” law, construction of higher-density housing, emergency tents on government property, public bathrooms and showers, and more. But at the same time, only 25% were willing to support additional funding beyond the approved spending measures mentioned above before the programs expire. The reason? They’ve put up the cash and don’t believe it’s being used wisely.

It’s obvious that something has to be done and all of these projects are certainly helping at least some of the people living on the streets. But what all of these solutions lack is a substantive effort to tackle the root of the issue. Just trying to take care of the homeless you have now isn’t going to get you anywhere until you begin dealing with the factors that are driving people into homelessness to begin with, as well as attracting more homeless from other regions.

The mentally ill need to be in long-term medical treatment at a responsible facility. The drug addicts need to be in treatment with a tough love approach. The children need to be moved into foster homes. And the rest of the otherwise functional people need jobs far more than they need handouts. (Though they still need handouts to get them through the transition.) Programs designed to make it easier for them to move back into productive lives will do more for them and the city than another thousand beds in a mega-shelter.

And then, as much as the leaders in Los Angeles are going to hate to hear it, you need to find a way to stop attracting so many people who lack the resources to support themselves and contribute to the community to your city. That includes supporting efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigration and enforcing those “quality of life” laws Democrats hate so much. As long as the welcome sign is out, you’ll keep attracting more homeless than you’ll ever be able to deal with.