Home>Articles>Newsom’s Homeless Policies Require Radical Revision

Sacramento Homeless. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Newsom’s Homeless Policies Require Radical Revision

Political choices created the homeless crisis, the housing shortage, and then made the problem worse instead of better

By Edward Ring, December 3, 2022 9:02 am

California’s Homeless Industrial Complex was delivered a minor jolt last month, when Governor Gavin Newsom “issued a blanket rejection of local California governments’ plans to curb homelessness, putting on hold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.”

The panic was short-lived, however, when in a November 18 conference in Sacramento the governor relented and released yet another billion dollars to California’s cities and counties after their representatives all pledged that “in the next round, they commit to more aggressive plans to reduce street homelessness.”

Oh please. “We’re going to plan to make more ‘aggressive’ plans. Ok? Now give us the money.”

This is theatre, but it doesn’t have to be. Newsom is one of the few individuals in California with the power to completely upend the corrupt, phony compassion-spewing army of opportunistic bureaucrats, nonprofits, and politically connected developers who have squandered billions in order to make California’s homeless crisis worse than ever.

Newsom was right to reject funding requests that, on balance, claimed they would only reduce homelessness in California by two percent. But he is wrong to expect that “more aggressive policies” will ever be effective unless the fundamental model to combat homelessness is completely scrapped and replaced.

Homeless policy in California rests on premises that guarantee ongoing failure. The so-called “Housing First” doctrine, which requires the homeless to be given free housing without any behavioral conditions before they can be treated for mental illness or substance addiction, much less trained to develop marketable skills, is a failure.

The decriminalization of sociopathic behavior including public use of hard drugs and repetitive petty theft, along with court rulings that prevent police from removing people from public places unless they can offer them free shelter, is a failure.

And the conflation of the obligation to provide “supportive housing” with the prevailing scam whereby a few thousand units of housing are built at a cost of a few billion dollars, is an abject, scandalous failure.

Finally, California’s neglected water, energy, and transportation infrastructure, its decimated timber industry, its offshoring of the sources for every necessary building material, its punitive policies of urban containment, its protracted, capricious, and extortionate process to obtain building permits, and its ridiculously overwrought building codes – all of this defined by fanatics and orchestrated by oligopolists – is the real reason housing is unaffordable.

If Governor Newsom wants to help the homeless, he will reject all of these premises. He will denounce the Housing First policy as unbalanced and ineffective, he will demand legislative and legal actions to reform laws that prevent police from arresting criminals and institutionalizing psychotics, and he will set a cap on how much a shelter bed will cost and challenge cities and counties to come up with solutions within that constraint.

All Newsom has to do to ensure cities and counties adhere to these new and radical revisions to homeless policy in California is withhold the money. All of it. It’s a lot of money. According to the LAO, last year the State of California “provided $10.7 billion to 50 housing and homelessness-related programs across 15 state entities.”

That probably isn’t all the money being spent. Deciphering state budget allocations, taking into account the many ways “housing” and “homeless” are categorized, perusing the general fund, capital accounts, bond financings, federal pass-throughs, special funds, and who knows what else, is a fool’s errand. There are infinite routes through the labyrinth, all of them yielding different results. Expect $10.7 billion to be the low number. That’s a pretty big Minotaur, but that’s only the state’s share.

Then there is the money California’s cities and counties are also pouring into the maw of the Homeless Industrial Complex. Earlier this year, the City of Los Angeles agreed to commit another $3 billion to house “some” of its homeless. In this current fiscal year, Los Angeles County has budgeted $532 million to “fight homelessness.” These totals don’t include additional spending on low income housing and rent subsidies. They don’t include spending on homeless and housing programs by the other 87 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. They don’t include the rest of California’s cities and counties.

It isn’t necessary to wade through over 500 local budgets to know tens of billions of dollars have been squandered, because of political choices that created the homeless crisis, the housing shortage, and then made the problem worse instead of better.

Consider the KTLA report from February 2022, exposing a homeless housing project where each unit under development was going to cost $837,000 per unit. Consider what outraged residents in LA’s Venice neighborhood have dubbed the Monster on the Median, projected to cost over $100 million to construct, on land that’s worth at least another $50 million, in order to offer 140 units of subsidized housing.

This is blatant, deplorable corruption. It’s everywhere. And it’s all perfectly legal. Newsom, it’s time to go beyond words. Take this to the next level. End this. Now.

Estimates of California’s homeless population range in excess of 150,000 individuals. How much would it cost in an honest, functional society to get them off the streets? First, one must understand – and this is based on evidence gathered from people with extensive and direct experience working with the homeless – if California’s laws were revised to make laws against vagrancy, intoxication and theft enforceable again, half of the homeless (or more) would vanish overnight. They would return to domiciles they had previously spurned in favor of the freedom and unaccountability of the street.

The homeless that remained after changing the legal environment could be managed by reserving existing shelter space and supportive housing for those unsheltered homeless who can remain sober and accept counseling and job training. There is already enough capacity built to handle those homeless who are willing and able to work towards regaining their independence.

The rest – and this would be most of them – could be sorted according to their afflictions into cohorts of criminals, addicts, and psychotics. The addicts and the criminals could be removed to regional camps set up in inexpensive parts of the California’s urban counties. These camps could be set up for millions of dollars, not billions, using expertise on loan from U.N. personnel who have done similar work, overnight and on a budget, in conflict zones all over the world. To help earn their keep, they could participate in conservation projects and other character building work, and recover their sobriety, their dignity, and eventually their freedom. The truly mentally ill would have to be placed, involuntarily, in psychiatric hospitals.

Taking this approach to the homeless crisis would not be cheap. Expanding the capacity of psychiatric hospitals, in particular, will cost hundreds of millions. But overall, this approach would work, and it would cost far less than what is being spent today to execute policies that have merely turned California into a magnet for the indigent of the nation. Incremental shifts in homeless policy in California will never solve the problem. And Gavin Newsom knows it.

Do more, governor.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Edward Ring
Spread the news:


13 thoughts on “Newsom’s Homeless Policies Require Radical Revision

  1. Grateful to see this refresher on the Homeless Industrial Complex It is wonderfully specific and clear as a bell. It seemed the public was fully waking up to what was actually going on as far back as 2019, no small feat, but the Usual Suspects are experts at burying the truth and diverting attention. And oh yeah, rigging elections.

    Always looking for clues that something, anything, will break through the skulls of the sociopathic Gov and his Gang, and with Edward Ring and Michael Shellenberger and Katy Grimes on the case there is good reason to be hopeful. At some point we’ll hit a critical mass and EVERYONE will be more desperate for the common-sense solutions that are already clearly spelled out and on record here and elsewhere.

    Unfortunately someone (I can’t remember who) recently characterized Newsom as being very fond of “The Grand Gesture,” which struck a chord. Maybe blaming and not funding the locals this time around (then relenting, probably because it’s superficially a bad look for him at Christmastime?) may indicate that, like a spoiled child on Christmas Day, Newsom is bored with the grand gesture homeless toy and on to the new fresh grand gesture reparations toy, to see how that one plays and attracts attention for his presidential ambitions. Sure, it will cost the moon and help exactly no one, only further damage the country, but Newsom knows it sounds good and plays to misplaced guilt —- as long as no one looks too close at the details.

    Therefore, stuck with our current caliber of pathetic leadership — and Newsom is definitely the Poster Boy of that — we may just have to wait until we can get more sensible and mature people in office —- if that should ever happen in CA —- for this nightmare to finally be effectively addressed by those in power.

  2. Reformed man 290 register can’t get any housing as of 11-27-2022 by homeless homeward Bound Director ok. denied housing because I have crimes that date back 36 years ago people, I paid my dues ok. Let me find and keep my Housing. I am bipolar, depression, PTSD complex, diabetic, glaucoma in both eyes. no SSDI… living homeless on the streets now San Rafael CA.

  3. Lanterman-Perris-Short Act must be totally revamped to accommodate current street realities. It has failed in its mission and was born out of unicorn times that actually believed asylum inmates were smarter than the administrators – ala One Flew Over the Cook’s Nest.

    Today’s street realities need to respond to the “cannot” on the streets – who are either addicts or mentally impaired and providing an independent “home” is not even close to an answer to their lives that need lockdown institutional care.

    This is part of dropping the term “homeless” and triaging them into their separate categories since just providing a “home” is not the answer:
    1. The have nots – social service agencies already address this group.
    2. The can nots – these are the one ill-served by the current Lanterman-Perris -Short Act and do need confinement
    3. The will nots – the largest and most visible group – the grifters and the con artists – jail or lock down work camps are the only options for this group.

    Providing homes for the current street population is folly, and we need to stop even implying this is solution. It isa waste of time money and patience while doing nothing to help anyone, other than the Homeless Inc professionals who move from grant to grant with no accountability for outcomes.

    A simple scan of mobile homes for sale up and down this state show you can house people for a way lot less than is thrown around now (easily under $100K per unit), if all you need to do is “house” people.

  4. In addition to everything else you offer, Jaye, have always appreciated your triage categorizations of Have Nots, Can Nots, and Will Nots in addressing this situation.

    1. The triage is a necessary departure point when having any discussions about the “homeless” since one person is talking about the high-functioning person Have Not, who falls under the current social welfare response. While others are talking the WillNots who refuse to budge and degrade any offered housing into drug dealing and prostitution rackets. Finger pointing and endless rounds of unnecessary scolding are all that emerge from any discussion about only the “homelesss”. No one such thing and to continue using term means others are not yet ready to respond to the actual situation.

      Re-location has to be put on the table too – since there is cheap housing can be found in California as any Zillow search will reveal. So to do nothing, while complaining one can’t find a place to live in “expensive California” means someone does not want to really do anything at all. Another dead end. So relocation must be part of any public response to “homelessness”.

      Using federal and state land is the best responses to the creation of state care institutions which will take the most vulnerable directly off the streets and the public guardians office ensures all their personal rights will remain intact .

      But currently the Lanterman-Perris-Short Act deprives the “Can Nots” of this necessary care. It is inhumane to not reform that out of date act, when there was a mistaken belief daily psychotropic drugs were the answer for those who could not function on their own. No more guilt trips from those who rise to defend the old LPS Act in its current and negligent form. One of the first barriers to real solutions, that must fall.

      Then let’s audit of the decades of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) – bond issue-passed billions of dollars ago – funding Homeless Inc. Audit for best practices that we have already funded under this MHSA passed years ago, and discard all those payment streams that have clearly proven to be useless except for the full employment of the providers.

      Where did all that money go? There is not a voter who did not believe new funding stream would not be used to get people off the streets. But just the opposite happened. What went wrong with that on-going money stream?

  5. “Newsom is one of the few individuals in California with the power to completely upend the corrupt, phony compassion-spewing army of opportunistic bureaucrats, nonprofits, and politically connected developers who have squandered billions in order to make California’s homeless crisis worse than ever.”

    It’ll never happen – EVERY ONE of these entities are Newsom’s CAMPAIGN FUNDERS and we know that Newsom is an unprincipled “ho” that only cares about his political future and not about his constituents…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *