The past few weeks has seen violence from the transient community that can only be compared to something out of a horror film. What could be considered the most devastating of incidents occurred two weeks in Seattle when a family visiting from Los Angeles were struck by a car as they exited their hotel. The 23-year-old female driver, who is transient and appeared to be high on methamphetamines, recklessly drove through the city before striking a father, his son, his daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend on the sidewalk, killing both siblings and severely injuring the dad.
The woman, who was helped from her vehicle from bystanders, fled the scene and was found hiding in an alcove, changing her clothes. When police arrested her, she was singing, dancing and uncooperative. Yet despite incidents such as this, when Anderson Cooper of 60 Minutes asked Mayor Jenny Durkan if the city has a grip on this problem, she replied, “I think we know what works,” citing they have secured funding for 5,000 new, affordable housing units over the next three years.
Last month, Los Angeles Police shot and killed a transient who chased an officer into the street with a foot-long machete. The incident started with the man robbing an auto parts store at knifepoint, then carjacking a vehicle from a fast food drive-thru and hitting two police cars. Those who knew the suspect said he was “troubled.”
Also in Los Angeles, an 11-year-old was walking home from a soccer game in Westchester when a male transient grabbed him by the neck and said, “You’re not going to see your parents after I kill you.” The child escaped, went home and told his father, who said when the suspect was finally arrested, he resisted and had to be taken away by ambulance.
Despite a sixteen percent increase in homelessness over the past year, last month in an interview with FOX11, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Homeless Advisory Council, said, “There’s no question LA is now the model,” for rectifying the crisis, due to the proposed housing units at a $1.2 billion price tag, for an average of over $500,000 a unit.
In Santa Rosa, while walking behind a high school, a woman was attacked by dogs living at a homeless encampment that has existed for five years. She was bitten, pulled down and dragged, which caused tendon, bone and nerve damage resulting in emergency surgery and a three-day hospital stay. This was not the first time the dogs were aggressive: another woman and her husband reported their behavior three months prior, and were told the dogs had bitten people in the past, and a police officer was sent out to ask them to leave.
A male transient in North Sacramento threatened to kill a man with a hatchet, and when police officers made contact, the suspect threw a large rock at one officer, injuring him, and fled. When they caught up to him, he was still uncooperative even when they discharged a conductive energy device (CED). A struggle ensued and the transient’s dog began biting one of the officers, forcing him to shoot and kill the dog.
And earlier that day in downtown Sacramento, a transient punched a woman in the face in an attempt to take her purse. A Good Samaritan intervened and detained the suspect until police arrived. The day before, a man was shot and killed at a homeless encampment in the backyard of a residence in the suburb of Rancho Cordova that had existed for at least a year.
Homelessness jumped nineteen percent over the past two years in Sacramento County, and Mayor Steinberg, who also sits on the Governor’s Homeless Advisory Council, said last month in a video on his website that the city isn’t keeping up with the demand of affordable housing. He explained the cost averages $300,000 – $400,000 per unit and wants to build a $100 million housing trust fund.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced this month $650 million in emergency homeless aid, but despite the growing crisis, drug addiction and mental illness is a footnote, if that, in the never-ending cost to solve homelessness with no solid plan in sight.
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