Homelessness ~ The Flip Side

This is a reprint from a newsletter I like to read. I find it fitting this morning, also why I feel a personal urgency to become more hands on rather than turning a blind eye. Sometimes I wish that I could crawl back in my semi truck, turn on a great audio book and drive! Pretending none of this is happening in Siskiyou County or the Pacific Northwest for that matter. I laugh inside when I hear someone say, “I miss the good old days.” Yea Me TOO!

“In a surge of legal briefs [in recent weeks], frustrated leaders from across the political spectrum, including the liberal governor of California and right-wing state legislators in Arizona, charged that homeless encampments were turning their public spaces into pits of squalor, and asked the Supreme Court to revisit lower court decisions that they say have hobbled their ability to bring these camps under control… 

“Five years ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in [a] case from Boise, Idaho, that it was unconstitutional for cities to clear homeless camps and criminally charge campers unless they could offer adequate housing. In the nine Western states covered by the circuit, that ruling has since prompted billions of dollars of public spending on homelessness… More than 50 governments and organizations asked the high court [last] month to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s recent decisions.” 

New York Times

In addition, “Mayor Eric Adams is seeking to suspend New York City’s longstanding obligation to provide shelter to anyone who asks for it, as officials struggle to find housing for thousands of migrants arriving from the southern border… Mr. Adams asked a judge to allow the city to put aside its legal obligation to provide shelter to single adults, arguing in court that the city should be able to temporarily lift the mandate during an emergency.” 

New York Times

Forum Discussions – See most recent comments

Homelessness is a nation issue, I feel the Boise Act has merits but also has created a lot of other problems for Siskiyou County and the north state.

Jay Martin DBA Siskiyou News Network
From the Left
The left argues that policymakers should focus on providing housing, and generally opposes suspending New York City’s right to shelter.
“There are many ways for local governments to reduce homelessness — primarily building new housing, providing mental health or substance use services and adopting policies that prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Citing and arresting homeless people camped on sidewalks, however, is not one of them… 

“It’s a bad idea to invite the Supreme Court to weigh in on homelessness policy, and it isn’t even necessary. Current rulings do not stop city and state officials from getting homeless people out of encampments, or from providing the temporary and permanent housing and services that are the only way to reduce homelessness. They also don’t block limited enforcement as long as there are some places that homeless people can sleep outside or some available shelter… 

“In Los Angeles, homeless people already are barred from camping in front of schools, day-care centers, parks and other areas designated by council members. They are prohibited from sleeping in vehicles overnight on some streets. Instead of complaining about not having enough ways to force homeless people off sidewalks, officials should be concentrating on finding more housing and offering more services.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“For all the failures of the city’s shelter system, in the four decades since the mandate was enacted, tens of thousands of people have been kept off city streets. A Staten Island judge recently referred to the mandate as a ‘relic,’ but it is among the reasons (along with the weather) that New York’s streets don’t resemble those of Los Angeles, where nearly 50,000 people are living on the streets. By comparison, the number of people who live on the streets of New York is estimated at just over 4,000… 

“New Yorkers should be aware that suspending the right to shelter would put this significant achievement at risk. Also at risk would be the city’s quality of life, its economy and, principally, the lives and dignity of the thousands of vulnerable people who may be forced to live on the streets if the city’s legal obligation to shelter them is lifted. Their presence on the streets could also affect businesses and tourism in New York, from restaurants and Broadway to efforts by large corporations to coax workers back to Manhattan offices.”
Mara Gay, New York Times

Some argue, “A right to shelter [crowds] out better solutions, starving resources from other approaches to address housing instability. Increasingly, evidence is demonstrating the success of community-based homelessness prevention efforts that seek to resolve the issues that lead to eviction…

“Other promising solutions can be found in efforts to provide short-term rental assistance rather than shelter, and in so-called supportive housing programs, in which people are given at-home attention to help them maintain housing stability… If forced to fund a bloated shelter system, public resources remaining for real solutions are starved.”
Linda Gibbs, New York Times
From the Right
The right argues that policymakers should focus on treating mental health and substance abuse, and that New York City should suspend its right to shelter.
“The misguided notion that providing free housing with no strings attached would solve homelessness has been debunked time and time again. Cities like Austin have seen a surge in homelessness, despite liberal policies aimed at providing housing. What these cities fail to address is the underlying issue – that homelessness is more often a problem of addiction and mental illness than it is of housing… 

“San Francisco’s move toward requiring drug testing and treatment is a step in the right direction, mirroring similar policy shifts we’ve seen in other parts of the country. It acknowledges a brutal truth that many on the left would rather ignore: that you can’t heal someone by merely putting a roof over their head; you have to treat the root cause of their suffering… 

“Critics argue that this new policy is punitive or inhumane, but what is truly inhumane is allowing people to continue living in squalor and addiction without intervention… It’s time to replace empty virtue signaling with effective policy.”
Chuck DeVore, Fox News

“‘Beginning in the early 1980s, studies consistently began to report that approximately one-third of the homeless population was affected by schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or major depression. By the late 1990s, people with serious mental illness were reported to be 10 to 20 times more likely than the general population to become homeless’…

“[In addition] The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported that at least a third engage in substance abuse. But here, too, one cannot overlook liberal policy preferences. In promoting the legalization of ‘recreational marijuana,’ liberals have effectively normalized drug use as part of daily life… 

“The [CDC] estimated 3 in 10 marijuana users develop ‘marijuana use disorder,’ including a need to use increasing amounts for the same effect, and that 10% become outright addicted… 

“In effect, the city and perhaps the states appealing the Boise ruling are in the early stages of reconstituting a mental health treatment system… Truly addressing the reasons for street homelessness, however, will require liberal cities and states to undertake major course corrections toward involuntary commitment, discouraging drug use, and understanding that housing costs are not the reasons for homeless encampments.”
Howard Husock, Washington Examiner

“During the dark days of New York’s decline from the 1960s through the early 1990s, its leaders routinely pinned blame not on their own decisions or the city’s structural shortcomings, but on insufficient help from Albany and Washington. Mayor Adams has a choice to make. He can continue to do what clearly hasn’t worked, pleading for money that will wind up in a bottomless pit of homeless-shelter contracts. Or he can accept a bad situation for what it is, shoulder responsibility for his role in managing it, and make the hard decision to scrap the right to shelter.”
John Ketcham, City Journal

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