Homelessness

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Homelessness is an unsolvable problem, in a free society, in that you can't claim to be free and stop people from doing things you don't agree with, at the same time. So you have to pick one: tolerance (liberty) or cleanliness/civility/order. Compassion for free-range substance abuse, mental disorders, and layabouts destroying the cities, or compassion for the hard working folks trying to make a better world for themselves and their children. So while you can't cure it, you can decide whether you want to make it better or worse, depending on your tolerance for it.

🗒️ NOTE:
I am not an expert, but I have worked soup kitchens, and did social work. I've travelled to shelters and have homeless friends, and have asked many questions at facilities I've visited, and talked to people on both sides of this problem. These are my opinions. If you can show me where I'm wrong, I welcome it. But these views matured and solidified over decades, and people that disagree seem incapable of offering evidence of where I'm wrong.

Types

I don't mean to imply that it's a simple problem -- but it's not nearly as hard as some pretend. You just need the willpower to fix it.

The first thing is there are different types of homeless, and different solutions for each. This obviously isn't every story, but loose categories that covers the vast majority -- though many cross over into more than one category, and can evolve through them.

Short term homelessness -- these are people between jobs, or that get evicted. While they make a good poster child for the advocates, "this could be you", we're all one small layoff away from being homeless. The truth is most people have some sort of support system: family and friends they can fall back on. They can start selling assets (goods/furniture, things) to get temporary shelter. Living out of a car, in the short term, isn't the end of the world. Who hasn't had to do sleep in their car before? And temporary shelters are some of the better funded problems -- and if they aren't, it's because the resources are getting poorly diverted to other homelessness. This problem is solvable with a few shelters that offer temporary housing, and trust that people will get their shit together in the time allotted and find their next step.

The bigger problem are the long term or chronic homeless. Some have given up on trying, some like their lifestyle (better than the alternatives). In the real world, you get what you incentivize (or refuse to punish). You have two choices, make it easier for them, or make it harder for them until they make other choices. That's about it.

Those screaming for more compassion are actually enabling the behavior. And while we all understand the compassion, making homeless easier, giving them more, will only get more homelessness. They're homeless, not stupid. So programs meant to virtue signal and show you care, also are throwing anchors to drowning people: making the status quo better, is also making change even harder.

Substance abusers are not responsible adults. They are people that will choose a substance over their responsibility. So every liberal program that helps them, enables them. Here's some free needles or laws that won't punish you for self harm (having illegal substances). Fine. But what they need is prison (or rehab).

If you have a habit, and are choosing that habit over work, family and housing, then you have a problem -- and are no longer a rational adult that is in control of your own life. So someone more responsible needs to make decisions for you, until you can get back in control. Lock them up, clean them up, and start giving them a purpose: a work camp to get their life back on track. If they can, let them out. But each time they are caught and brought back, they need to serve the previous sentence over, before serving their new sentence. So 3 months, 6 months, a year. Each time you're taking them off the streets, you're making their life better -- and you're making everyone else's.

Mentally ill are not responsible adults. They need supervision, and a controlled environment. They can either take their meds and stay sane (not live on the streets), or they can't. If they can't, they need confinement in asylums or something that keeps them from harm (either harming others, or themselves).

Layabouts / Urban Campers are not responsible adults by virtue of their choices. If you've studied homeless, you find the kids, hippies, surfers, etc., that know they can get by living out of their car, or in a tent/encampment, mooching off of society. It's not that they can't work, it's that they think by eliminating permanent housing that they're scamming the system. They get money/aid/food/etc., and they can mooch their life away. The problem is this spiral kills self esteem in the long run, and can learn to substance abuse, mental illness, and criminality. They don't care about society, and so society doesn't care about them, and that loop doesn't end well for either side. So just enforce the laws, raise the costs, and get them to make other choices, or put them in work-camps until they decide a different lifestyle.

Topics

Here's a few more articles/thoughts on Homelessness, and solutions: Homeless : 6 items


Utah model for homelessness - The Utah tried to provide houses for all their homeless, to rave reviews in all the papers. The results, more came and they ended with more homeless than they started with. They're homeless, not stupid: if you play the pied piper, you might get more of them. Firing a money-canon at a problem, doesn't usually make the problem go away in the long term. Then they used cops to start scattering them and the numbers went down (or went untrackable).

Shanty Town -
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I have no problems with social experiments. I just want honest accounting of them. San Jose Mayor (Sam Liccardo) got people to sponsor "tiny homes" (garden sheds) for the homeless on public lands, at about about 5x the cost per unit (≈$70K each) as it would cost an individual. Which I find compassionate to the homeless, and cruel to the taxpayers. We know how this will end: crime, disease, and detritus to our community, suppress property values, it will attract more homeless (for the free housing, etc) -- and those things will cause backlash against the Homeless it claims to help. But Sam gets free press, and that's what's important, right?

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Seattle is Dying - In March an video journalist (Eric Johnson) did an hour long Exposé on Seattle's homelessness problem, documenting facts about how Seattle's compassionate progressivism has resulted in an explosion of homelessness, squalor, disease, crime, and contempt (for government or the homeless). Naturally, he became the problem. If you can't admit the problem, then at least attack the person pointing out the emperors nakedness.

Reagan emptied mental institutions and caused homeless crisis -
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"Reagan did it" is the TDS of the 1980s, but a persistent myth is that Reagan emptied the mental institutions and shut them down, and that's why we have a homelessness problems that California (or nationally) today. Like most things the left believes, it's utter bullshit. The facts are:
  • In the late 50s, warehousing of people in institutions had gone too far, and media exposés on bad conditions had people eliminating federal and state institutions over the failure of state psych wards and the freeing of patients. (They thought the communities would do better). It was national phenomenon, not a state one.
  • Movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (based on a book from 1962) or Clockwork Orange (based on a book from 1962) were examples of the propaganda against mental institutions of the time: consider it a consequence of the rise of the hippie baby boomers, and backlash against “the man”. Sex, drugs, and stop being so judgmental against the mentally ill... it was another failure of progressivism.
  • By the time Reagan took office (1966), the housed population had already halved over his predecessor under Pat Brown (D), and the momentum was already in motion, he didn't increase the trend at all (the policies continued), and it continued under Jerry Brown (D) at the same rate (after him). And it was happening nationally at a higher rate.
  • Since the Democrats/left refuse to take responsibility for anything, they point fingers at someone who did less than they did, forgive both the Browns, and ignore that they've controlled all the houses in California for nearly 50 years since then, and did nothing to fix it. The problems had gotten better through the 80's, 90's and 2000's and only crashed after Barack Obama and 2008+. Those that claim it's all the Republicans fault are either fools, dishonest partisans, or both.

Panhandling - There's a saying, you get what you incentivize. So if you pay people to be poor, it's amazing how many people will suddenly become poor. An example is this panhandler that makes $1,000 a weekend in Texas, by pretending to be homeless and wheelchair bound. He has a home and walks just fine. In NYC one guy was making $200/hour. An Oklahoma guy made $60K/year. This is nothing new, welfare scams have been endemic since people figured out that the givers are lazy rubes that want to feel better about themselves, more than they want to prove the recipient is a fraud. FakeFact checkers like Snopes claim that the $50/hour claim is unproven -- but so are all their claims on the topic. They ignore the outliers to prove their claim -- better would be if they just admitted that's likely not the norm, but completely in the realm of probability.

Martin Sheen homeless enabler -
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When the Sheen comes off the rose

Santa Monica had a rash (literally) of homeless people. Beach communities are magnets because they are warm and arty, there is a place to sleep, and so on. The problem was aggravated when Martin Sheen was made honorary mayor of neighboring Malibu, and promptly declared it a "nuclear-free zone, a sanctuary for aliens and the homeless", meaning they should all come and live there without harassment.

Neighboring radio stations (and mayors) started getting busses together to ship all the homeless up there to comply with Martin's calls for utopia, which was all very humorous and ironic, and outraged many of the locals. Humorous, not in a "ha ha" sort of way, but in a "careful what you wish for" and bitter irony sort of way. They got the desired outcome: homelessness in Santa Monica went up, as did crime, disease, substance abuse.


Compassion often is selfishness wrapped in sanctimony

Someone that got evicted and is living in a car is different than someone between jobs, urban campers, and persistent homeless. And the solutions are too. And the problem with things like this is always unintended consequences. (They're homeless, not stupid).


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