[guest post by JVW]
The Los Angeles Times (today they deserve their official name rather than the derisive Dog Trainer that we typically use here) prepares us for a depressing report due to be released at the end of this month:
Los Angeles officials are bracing for the release of a report that’s likely to show little or no progress in reining in homelessness, despite the $619 million they spent last year to grapple with the crisis.
The gloomy prognosis on one of Southern California’s top political issues emerged during two recent briefings on homelessness and the 2019 point-in-time count, the results of which are due to be released May 31.
[. . . ]
Last year, officials credited new money flowing into the homeless services system with a slight drop in the homelessness count. The city has Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion voter-approved bond to build homeless housing, while the county funds homeless services through Measure H, including rent subsidies, shelter beds, drug and mental health counseling and other services.
The county, in a recent report, said 27,000 homeless people had been placed into permanent housing in 18 months.
But advocates question whether some of those people may be back on the streets. The homeless services authority’s tracking system registers only those who have left their housing placements if they seek more aid. Those who return to a tent or RV without appealing for additional help fly under the radar.
The city spent $442 million from Proposition HHH last year developing homeless and affordable apartments, but none of the projects have opened yet and the wait for permanent housing has stretched to an average of 215 days. Thus far, the city’s $77-million shelter expansion plan has produced two facilities, with room for 147 people.
Entirely predictable, this idea that empowering an already rancid city/county bureaucracy by showering it with money and expecting it to do many wondrous things should turn out to be so naïve and foolish, but the progressive imagination and their desire to believe in the beneficence of big government is virtually limitless. You may recall that this past fall I mentioned in passing that the city of Los Angeles folks in charge of administering $1.2 billion in funding raised via a tax initiative passed in 2016 now admit that they are likely to only build about 60% of the new units originally promised before they run out of money. When will the voters of this region learn the lesson about trusting bureaucrats who make lavish promises with respect to solving seemingly intractable social problems?
Well-intentioned progressives (and freeloading public sector stooges) would have us believe that the homeless issue in the Los Angeles area is dominated by laid off Boeing engineers and factory employees who have seen their jobs shipped to China (or, more likely, to Nevada), and would quickly get back on their feet if they had some habitat security. But it doesn’t really take a whole lot of digging to uncover the fact that a huge share of the homeless population struggles with substance abuse problems and psychological disorders, and I would willingly wager that those individuals make up the majority of homeless residents who camp out in public places and bring with them a variety of attendant sanitary and safety issues. Until the city and county have come up with a method for getting help for drug addicts and the mentally ill, finding them indoor beds for the night or even building new housing is not going to accomplish all that much. In the meantime, don’t get fooled into believing that this issue is easily solved by paying government to build more housing units.