Home>Articles>‘Snake Oil’: Housing First Advocates Sneak Attack DAs & Sheriff’s Plan to End Homelessness

Homeless sleeping on running trail in Wm. Land Park, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

‘Snake Oil’: Housing First Advocates Sneak Attack DAs & Sheriff’s Plan to End Homelessness

A lie by omission is particularly devious

By Katy Grimes, June 4, 2023 3:54 pm

Last week the Globe ran a Special uncut op ed by three District Attorneys and the Sacramento Sheriff stating that they can end California’s homeless crisis in one year, and that way is to end the drug crisis.

District Attorneys Jeff Reisig of Yolo County, Anne Marie Schubert (Retired) Sacramento County, Greg Totten, CEO California District Attorneys Association and Retired DA of Ventura County, and Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper presented their “comprehensive new approach” which “takes a modest step in the direction of several progressive states which have had success combatting homelessness.”

Homeless man waking up in Wm. Land Park. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

The DAs and Sheriff say prosecutors need to have the discretion to charge hard drug possession as a new class of crime called a “treatment mandated felony.” The judge would have the final say on whether the defendant should be charged in this manner. The factors that the prosecutor and judge would consider in the decision would include:

  • The defendant’s prior history
  • The quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession
  • The defendant’s amenability to drug treatment
  • Other offenses coupled with the drug possession such as illegal weapons possession

If the defendant is charged with this new, “treatment mandated felony,” an addiction specialist would be assigned to provide a complete suite of services to the defendant including:

  • Shelter
  • Drug and mental health treatment (outpatient whenever possible)
  • Job training

They note that several states with high housing costs have low homelessness – something which rankles “housing first” advocates who continue to insist the hundreds of thousands of drug addicts living on the streets, parks, beaches, rivers and golf courses in California would not be there if they could afford housing, even calling the drug-addicted homeless the “unhoused.”

Almost immediately after the op ed ran, the “Housing First” advocates and media sharpened their knives and attacked. One such attack came in a letter to the editor Sunday to The Sacramento Bee from a fellow who signed the letter as “Ned Resnikoff, Emeryville” – as if he’s just a guy with strong opinions about affordable housing. Here is an excerpt of his letter:

“Sacramento Sheriff Jim Cooper and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig claim to be offering your readers a plan to end homelessness within the next year, but they’re really just selling snake oil.

The real reason why these states have lower rates of homelessness isn’t a mystery: they have much lower housing costs. The fact of the matter is that California will not be able to end homelessness in the space of a year — least of all by simply arresting our way out of the problem. To end the homelessness crisis, we need to end the housing crisis.”

Well, low and behold, it turns out Ned Resnikoff of Emeryville is the Policy Director of California YIMBY – the “Yes in Our Backyard” group, a very active political pro-housing advocacy movement. YIMBY is supposed to contrast NIMBY – the “not in my backyard” class.

Mr. Resnikoff’s LinkedIn profile is rich with his housing first credentials and activities:

I am the policy director at California YIMBY, a nonprofit that works at the state level to put California on a path of broad-based economic prosperity and create vibrant, livable, and inclusive communities for everyone. I primarily work on long-range policy planning and education for the organization.

I previously served as Policy Manager for the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI) at the University of California, San Francisco. While there, I worked with BHHI’s researchers to assess the policy implications of their findings and educate other stakeholders — including policymakers, advocates, and the general public — on those implications.

Mr. Resikoff also says he “spent 7 years as a journalist writing for publications such as msnbc and Al Jazeera America. I also have had bylines at The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, and elsewhere. My last position in journalism was as senior editor for policy at ThinkProgress.”

Mr. Resnikoff has impressive housing first credentials, AND journalism credentials – something he and The Sacramento Bee editors should have included in his letter to the editor. It’s a lie by omission, which is particularly devious.

The Globe has covered the homeless crisis extensively and agree with the DAs and Sheriff, and note that focusing only on housing rather than what’s really at the root of homelessness – drug addiction and mental illness – is merely Democrats controlling the language rather than solving the homeless crisis.

One fine example is Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, from a Globe article in March:

“In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people out of encampments and into housing,” Gov. Newsom said, while announcing his administration will be supplying 1,200 tiny homes statewide, including 500 for Los Angeles, 200 for San Jose and 150 for San Diego County.

California has more than 170,000 homeless transients living on the streets, and the governor and Mayors are all excited about 1,200 tiny homes.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced the state will purchase and install 350 tiny homes in Sacramento “as part of a statewide push to assist California communities in addressing the crisis of unsheltered homelessness.”

They most certainly are not “using every tool in our toolbox,” as long as they pretend that housing is the root of the homeless crisis. If housing was the problem, more families would be on the street instead of individual mentally ill, drug addicted, and criminal “homeless.”

Someone is getting really well-paid for all of the tiny homes, renovated motel and hotel rooms, and converted apartments. Also notable is that Gov. Newsom has only grown the homeless population in California.

What might Mr. Resnikoff say about that? More houses?

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17 thoughts on “‘Snake Oil’: Housing First Advocates Sneak Attack DAs & Sheriff’s Plan to End Homelessness

  1. Well now, isn’t THAT interesting. Busted!
    Isn’t it uncanny that ONLY those (such as Ned Resnikoff) who have a money, power, and prestige stake in the proven failure of “Housing First” are the ones who back it? And the list of those who have a stake is very long —- CA politicians including Gov Gavin Newsom (and the Gang of Mayors and others), bureaucrats, and so many ruinous “non-profits,” just to name a few. All living high off the misery of the GROWING number of addicts and mentally ill living in their own filth and fever dreams on our streets, who are often very dangerous to the public as well. How much lower can a person get than to profit from efforts that only seek to make this horrendous problem worse? No wonder this one only signed his name and town and pretended to be an average citizen.

  2. Let me guess, Mr. Resnikoff is awaiting for Emeryville’s piece of the homekey 760 million pie.
    More money is coming to the non profits and developers that specialize in the housing first fiasco,the 3rd round grant will be awarded to cities and counties in the next 90 days or until the funds run out.
    Billions of dollars already spent and only a small percent of those on the streets have been housed.
    This money will soon dry up and then what? The program will become extinct and the homeless crisis will still be unsolved!
    Along with the media deceit are the grifters that oversee the construction and care of the tenants. They are all lining their pockets with our tax dollars.Two such companies that formed to renovate motels are Shangri La Construction and Step Up. These two companies are very well connected to win the bids to renovate properties for Homekey facilities.
    Who are the real winners of the housing first approach? The specialty contractors and operators.
    Who are the real losers? The drug addled that remain on the streets and the California tax payer.

  3. Clearly Ned Resnikoff is a current beneficiary of the Homeless Industrial Complex. As I have previously stated, giving meth and fentanyl addicts housing will solve nothing. They will still be unemployable drug addicts for whom the next “fix” will be their only motivation. A real solution requires separating the addicts from the drugs. It requires simultaneously addressing the addicts and the dealers. Per the referenced article, the addicts must be compelled to accept rehabilitation. As for the dealers, their punishment must be harsh and guaranteed. In Singapore drug trafficking is punishable by death. They don’t have a significant drug program. Perhaps the death penalty is too harsh but I could give a rat’s ass if every one of them got 20-year prison sentences.

    1. Illegal drugs are available inside the walls of Elmwood, the Santa Clara County jail.
      If you can’t keep illegal drugs out of the jails, then the solution isn’t more penalties. That hasn’t worked.
      Portugal treats addiction as a medical issue, not as a criminal issue.
      BTW, they have the lowest recreational drug usage in the entire EU.
      The “War on Drugs” is over, and the drugs won.

  4. Why is a former journalist (aka deep-state leftist propagandist) like Ned Resnikoff the Policy Director of a homeless nonprofit like California YIMBY? As Katy pointed out, no doubt he and leaders of other non-profits have financially benefited from the homeless industrial complex? Non-profit leaders who leech off the misfortune of the homeless like Ned Resnikoff would have to get real jobs if the homeless crisis was ever solved?

  5. Confirming the themes of the D.A.s in the referenced article as well as reader comments made here, listen to L.A.’s KABC-AM 790 callers reacting to the infamous Fake Doctor Barbara Ferrer’s public statements that we have to “meet addicts where they are” and thus the need for so-called “harm reduction,” a misnomer that actually means encouraging addiction through the distribution of free meth pipes and needles, etc. Callers include those who have experienced, themselves, getting clean through incarceration and staying sober through taking advantage of rehab programs, pre-Props 47 and 57. This not only saved their lives but allowed them to then HAVE productive and peaceful lives. Compelling:
    “Randy Wang KABC-790 takes calls on the misnamed ‘harm reduction’ drug policy”
    (Begin at 2:56 marker — calls go for about 16 minutes)

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  7. Remember the “Law of Supply and Demand” taught in High School Econ classes???
    The reason houses cost so much is the demand exceeds the supply.
    And, what is restricting the supply?
    Answer: 1. zoning laws that restrict most areas to single family homes.
    2. Building permit fees and delays issuing permits and regulations that drive up construction/remodeling costs.
    3. Building codes that drive up costs
    All of the above are controlled by local and state governments.

  8. Whats funny is that the world we live in there is no one who can figure this out….
    ” Homelessness ” is due to gain, greed, profit and the broken outdated USA government. More homeless are coming, due to the yearly increase in rent here in California why would the governor ever sign such a bill to increase 5% or as the true facts are 10% in hard times
    ( key words ” hard times ” ) . Every year that is over $100 a year. To be exact $130 in 2021, $140 in 2022 that is $270 in two years. I have never seen a increase in salary that much to think it would be possible to pay those yearly increases. This is greed it was done for gain by others who profit on rent in California and government made that happen. More homeless are coming every year due to this fact.
    State at the top and work your way down and fix our no longer working truly outdated government and the pieces will fall into place because starting at the bottom is not working.

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