Patterico's Pontifications

12/14/2023

The State Where Everything Fails

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:16 am



[guest post by JVW]

Of course I refer to California, and especially to a huge dysfunctional city/county like Los Angeles. From CalMatters with bolded emphasis added by me:

Jesus Mares got a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to rental support from one of Los Angeles’ leading homelessness agencies, he had a roof over his head.

He had been bouncing between sleeping in his car and hotel rooms. The taxpayer-subsidized room in a South L.A. duplex provided stability until he could get back on his feet, he’d hoped.

It went well for a while, he said. Then Mares quickly noticed things were amiss with the nonprofit, known as HOPICS. He went through several case managers who Mares said didn’t come to see him.

Then came the eviction notice. HOPICS, which has received about $140 million in Los Angeles city, county, state and federal funding over the last three years for a program known as rapid re-housing, was months behind on paying his rent, according to Mares and his former landlord.

Altogether, 306 residents of Los Angeles County lost their homes thanks to HOPICS failing to keep up on the rent subsidies. While the CalMatters piece assures us that “more than half were then placed in permanent housing or sent to temporary sites,” there are apparently 119 formerly-housed souls who are unaccounted for, though in interviews with former program participants CalMatters has ascertained that at least some of them are on the streets or are living in their automobiles. Perhaps others are incarcerated or even dead. Where did it all go wrong? According to documents reviewed by CalMatters, it was the usual mix of ineptitude such as a failure to properly vet middlemen who connected homeless residents with housing, utter and complete laziness like ignoring repeated warnings from landlords that the rent was in arrears, and that annoying sort of progressive grandiosity which in this case was taking on far too many clients than the program could properly manage.

Naturally, HOPICS (which stands for Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System) blames their problems on an embarrassment of riches, i.e. the piles and piles of COVID money that the government was happy to shovel into the economic furnace over the past three years. The program hired the aforementioned middlemen, many of them from fly-by-night nonprofits that suddenly sprung up when the government started making it rain with all of the Jacksons, Grants, and Benjamins that they were feverishly printing late at night. You won’t be surprised to hear that HOPICS found some “questionable charges” on the invoices submitted by these middlemen, and investigating them started clogging up the whole payment process. And, of course, the eviction moratoriums being extended well beyond the point when the pandemic had started to subside ensured that there was no real urgency for HOPICS to act in a timely manner.

HOPICS itself is a division of Special Service for Groups (SSG), which is an outfit so well-managed and tightly run that their homepage still loads a pop-up window which decries the Atlanta massage parlor shootings of March 2021. So apparently none of their $149.1 million budget in 2022 (up from $84 million in 2018; the pandemic sure was a boon to some organizations) went to updating the website.

There’s more, much more, about the nexus between private nonprofits and taxpayer money, about the history of HOPICS from its founding in the early 1980s to today, about why the organization turned so readily to middlemen to place people in homes (spoiler: it was partially about fooling landlords), and about how the organization’s alleged due diligence in checking and double-checking these invoices has led to some landlords being owed upwards of $200,000 for the past two years and has put much of this in our county court system. It’s the usual story about a program operating under the premise of good intentions going awry through the randomness of the human element, and how undertaking charitable works can be fairly big business these days in a county like Los Angeles and a state like California (SSG has at least eight executives making somewhere between $200,000 and $320,639, and overall a healthy $66.4 million out of 2022’s total expenses of $147 million went to wages and benefits for employees). What’s the old joke about the missionary who ended up owning a diamond mine in Rhodesia? He went there to do good, and he ended up doing very well.

But the best coda to this story is that there is a quote from our dear old friend, former U.S. Representative Katie Hill, who is now a deputy director at HOPICS and who has spent a good portion of her non-Congressional career in the social services racket. She is still immersed in the contemporary psychobabble by which the the Millennials explain their foibles: “This is a lot of money that has gone towards a program that has shown that it can house a lot of people. It’s not perfect in any way, shape, or form, and it’s evolving, and we’re learning as we go.”

– JVW

36 Responses to “The State Where Everything Fails”

  1. Like Chou En Lai told Malcolm X at the 12th Annual John Brown Gun Club Symposium, in cave man days the guest of honor was the main course.

    Is it really a surprise that the people these drones “serve” are nothing more than the vehicles that fill their own rice bowls?

    nk (1ab1f5)

  2. Any altruistic idea from government or non-profits, or a marriage between the two, has the baked-in capacity to be abused and turned into a financial windfall for some of its participants. Why it’s almost like there really isn’t anything altruistic about it at all because, from the get-go it’s first and foremost, yet another money-making scheme put in place for officials to enrich themselves.

    Katie Hill. Hahaha.

    Dana (932d71)

  3. Let’s start with this:

    $140,000,000 divided by 36 months and divided by 306 units (assuming that 306 residents equates to 306 residences), we get $12,700 per residence per month.

    And they failed.

    It’s not hard to see the graft.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  4. There should be criminal charges here. If a Republican was running it there would be. Katie Hill will probably get a bye.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  5. Where they failed was in that such a large percent of the pie went to their claimed goal, rather than feathering the nests of whoever the in-group of the day is.

    Soronel Haetir (5dff4c)

  6. I expect what we will find is that money goes most easily to connected crooks and honest folks trying to do good are driven away by incessant scrutiny.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  7. Where they failed was in that such a large percent of the pie went to their claimed goal

    $12.7K a month for > $2K/month apartments is not a large percentage. It was, of course, eaten by layers of middlemen and their staffing needs.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  8. I again assert that every infrastructure problem that LA has is directly attributable to unfettered immigration. Stress in housing, traffic, social expenditure, medical services and prices in general are all the outcome of rapid population growth.

    None of this is fixable as long as the situation at the border continues, and it will be a long time before things can catch up.

    Of course, this cannot be said by any LA politician, so they have to find scapegoats.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  9. I wouldn’t want to be a landlord in California.

    norcal (a5a076)

  10. I had a very left-wing friend who decided to be a landlord in CA.

    It was going well until he got a meth-head tenant who wouldn’t pay rent, trashed the place and got a pro bono lawyer to fight eviction.

    A learning opportunity.

    Kevin M (034d52)

  11. Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/14/2023 @ 10:13 am

    It’s not hard to see the graft.

    It’s hard to see, but easy to deduce, but so far people don’t seem to be adding 2+2.

    This graft is probably much more common than people realize.

    It may be legal. They can pay in salaries whatever they want , and let contracts. Nothing is going to be found out until they get pursued like Trump and Eric Adams.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  12. Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/14/2023 @ 10:40 am

    I again assert that every infrastructure problem that LA has is directly attributable to unfettered immigration. Stress in housing, traffic, social expenditure, medical services and prices in general are all the outcome of rapid population growth.

    That just means the market is broken. But people living in the cities simply move further out.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  13. That just means the market is broken.

    No, it means that you can bring people across the border faster than you can build a freeway or an apartment block.

    See this about how LA builds “affordable housing.”

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  14. Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/14/2023 @ 5:17 pm

    Immigration is indeed a problem. A wall is not a cure-all, however. The last I checked, half of the people unlawfully present are visa overstays.

    There two reforms that would shrink the problem.

    1) Make E-Verify mandatory for every business, and combine it with robust enforcement.

    2) Do not give any public benefits to people unlawfully present.

    If they can’t work, and they can’t get public assistance, most will have no reason to be here, and you will see self-deportations.

    norcal (01030e)

  15. Get used to it california is america’s future. Turning ameriKKKa into an America for all not just rich republicans. We will swamp rethugliKKKan gerrymandering!

    asset (2b4a4f)

  16. 1) Make E-Verify mandatory for every business, and combine it with robust enforcement.

    By now, the green card has been debased as badly as state IDs. So many exceptions and exemptions…

    2) Do not give any public benefits to people unlawfully present.

    Some basic medical care is in everyone’s interest.

    The bottom line is to stop the influx. Then start deporting until there is a serious reform, which MUST allow the entry of young workers and their children while excluding everyone else. The count those you allow to remain against the upcoming quotas until exhaustion.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  17. @15: And they say that Replacement Theory is just silly. Of course they do. But it’s the plan.

    The sad fact though is that bringing in young workers, people who came here to WORK, who have families and faith, are not going to vote for welfare and funny pronouns.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  18. I have no idea why people who dislike California continue to live there.

    Rip Murdock (dc18a3)

  19. Are you not in California, Rip?

    norcal (2d6c64)

  20. Are you not in California, Rip?

    norcal (2d6c64) — 12/16/2023 @ 3:52 pm

    Yes, and your point?

    Rip Murdock (b16a33)

  21. As is JVW, I believe.

    Rip Murdock (b16a33)

  22. Yes, and your point?

    Rip Murdock (b16a33) — 12/16/2023 @ 3:56 pm

    I assumed that you would not like living in California because of the politics.

    norcal (2d6c64)

  23. I assumed that you would not like living in California because of the politics.

    norcal (2d6c64) — 12/16/2023 @ 4:08 pm

    My life isn’t governed by politics. I tolerate the state politics, but where I live (one of the coastal cities ending in Beach) local politics are conservative. Living within walking distance of the beach and having a vacation cabin in Lake Arrowhead and a family cabin at Lake Tahoe make it enjoyable.

    There are few places in the US that can match California’s recreational opportunities and perfect climate. I don’t like cold winters or humid summers and tornadoes and hurricanes are a big turnoff. So that pretty much eliminates everywhere else.

    Rip Murdock (b16a33)

  24. Gotcha.

    Lake Arrowhead and Lake Tahoe. A fine pair of cabins.

    norcal (ba61bf)

  25. Having lived in the state previously, I understand the attraction to California. I was never at a loss for vistors and things to do.

    Still, it does have its downsides. I was never one to think too much about earthquakes, but the San Fernando, Northridge, and Bay Area quakes were no joke. “The U.S. Geological Survey estimates at least a 60 percent chance that an earthquake at a magnitude of 6.7 or greater could occur in the next 30 years in the Los Angeles area.” I’m not sure how to interpret the 60%, though it doesn’t sound good.

    I generally had more concerns about the “controlled burns” which frequently seemed less than controlled and the separately raging wildfires. If you are going to spend $1.5M on a modest house, you kind of want it not to burn down.

    Floods and mudslides are a thing as well, though on the positive side I don’t ever recall locusts or a plague of frogs. However with California being the porn capital of the US and San Fernando being its epicenter, I could understand God placing a bulls eye in that general area.

    High state taxes, high sales taxes, high property taxes, high special assessments, and aggressive pursuit of out-of-state income. California really likes your money and likes spreading it out. I like my money too and there’s a sheeple sense of just sitting there and having to take it.

    Lot’s of homeless and illegals. And if you’re farther south, lot’s of grand theft auto siphoning down to Mexico. Sure the key is to have a mountain of money to isolate yourself, but what’s practical? It kind of s*cks to pay $1M for a 1200 square foot house and have some vagrant defecate in your front yard. Actually I think my cousin’s house is less than 1200 ft^2.

    More than 340k people left CA last year for another state with housing costs being the main driver. CA is hemorhagging young people who choose not to be house poor.

    Finally, let’s add in LA-area traffic congestion (it’s a toss up whether I would have put a captured Bin Laden in an underpowered Ford Fiesta on the I-405 or DC beltway), poor air quality, limited water resources and the resulting rationing, and of course the high costs of schools, utilities, gas, and food. And this doesn’t even touch the liberal politics of the state: unapologetically pro-abortion, anti-gun, pro-tent cities, pro-over-regulation, pro-big government projects, pro-renaming schools, generous social welfare handouts, and rampant political correctness and canceling. Great beaches though….and an especially great view for watching it all slide into the Pacific Ocean (cue Slim Pickens)!

    AJ_Liberty (c39dd4)

  26. AJ, I quibble.

    CA property taxes, as a percentage of property value are among the lowest in the country at 1.25% of purchase price with small annual adjustments to assessed value. I know people with $2 million houses and $8000 annual property tax bills, due to appreciation much faster than the assessment.

    CA sales taxes range from 7.75% to 9.5%. Texas can be as high as 8.5%. Several red states are higher.

    Income tax, is of course high, but overall the tax rate for a property owner is not extreme.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  27. And it is worth *something* to be able to wear shorts and flip-flops in February.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  28. AJ_Liberty (c39dd4) — 12/17/2023 @ 7:45 am

    Earthquakes happen with far less frequency than tornadoes or hurricanes, which occur every year in the Midwest, South, and East Coast. Out of control controlled burns can (and have) occurred in many other states, they are not unique to California. And the threat of wildfires and mudslides depends on where you live. And since I live in a gated community few riff raff get in (and the city makes sure they get pushed out also).

    Everyone has their own paradise.

    Rip Murdock (ee0cf7)

  29. Texas has no state tax, so is it fair to compare only their sales taxes?

    Also, $6k is the average property tax bill in CA. I’ll let our dear readers decide if that’s high or not…and whether they would trade.

    Yes, the weather is beautiful. It certainly softened me up. I would also say that only maybe Hawaii has better views, though Yosemite is distinctly unique. You just have to be content with the fact that the government will have an intravenous tap into your bank account and wealth. Love visiting…like last summer….but I like my dollar to go farther….

    AJ_Liberty (c39dd4)

  30. Texas has no state tax, so is it fair to compare only their sales taxes?

    No, I also compare their property taxes which are, respective to home value, more than double CA’s (very much more for a long-held property).

    But (red states) Louisiana and Arkansas have higher sales taxes than CA and they have those other taxes too.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  31. @23 Young people can’t get find a decent place to live and build equity. I work with people straight out of college, all with highly desirable jobs in tech. They can’t make ends meet. They can’t set down roots. As California goes, so goes the country. And, as SF goes, so goes California.

    In any case, the post was about California as a functioning entity, not about you. The title is a little misleading, as there is no one state where everything fails. There are many. They’re called blue states.

    lloyd (370f29)

  32. My original point still stands: if someone dislikes California so much, why do they stay there?

    Rip Murdock (ee0cf7)

  33. @32 Because there are those who think beyond their personal circumstances. If I had only myself to think about, California is fine. “I’ve got mine” is a petulant argument.

    lloyd (370f29)

  34. “I’ve got mine” is a petulant argument.

    But one often made.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  35. I would say argue with the experts

    https://taxfoundation.org/data/all/state/tax-burden-by-state-2022/

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  36. Cost of housing is due to localities preventing building, restricting the supply where demand is great.

    SamG (4e6c22)


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