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Exposing the Homeless Industrial Complex

Earlier this month a guest column in San Jose Spotlight defended efforts by homeless nonprofits to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. The author, Ray Bramson, is Chief Impact Officer at the nonprofit “Destination Home,” a tax exempt organization that collected over $62 million in contributions and grants in 2020. The CEO of this organization made a reported $335,404 in that year, and one of the directors made a whopping $754,871, of which a hefty $693,186 was “base compensation.”

Let’s suppose these salaries are justifiable, since it isn’t unusual for an organization with revenue of $62 million to have executives who make that much. The problem is that this organization is the product of perverse incentives. The management of public space has been taken over by what has now become a homeless industrial complex. Organizations like Destination Home will not flourish if homelessness is eliminated. Instead, like many other prosperous nonprofits and heavily funded government programs, the more they fail, the bigger they get.

In his column, Bramson attacks his critics. He writes, “The rhetoric machine likes to foment discord with the general public. It’s either that nothing is being done or it’s being done the wrong way. We need to criminalize, blame the individual for their shortcomings, complain about costs, or find a way to protect the community first, which almost always means putting the needs of the most vulnerable people last.”

Well, in deference to Bramson, plenty is being done. But it’s being done the […] Read More

California’s Homeless Housing Scam

Pogressive politicians have created the homeless crisis. Their policies have made housing unaffordable, driven away decent job opportunities, and encouraged vagrancy and drug addiction. Their solution—taxpayer subsidized housing, provided free and with no conditions imposed on any homeless person—is a special interest scam, guaranteed never to solve the problem. And nowhere in America is that problem worse than in Los Angeles, California.

Over the past week, two local elected officials in Los Angeles have made public statements on the homeless crisis that grips the region. They represent two completely different perspectives on how to resolve that crisis.

The first came in the form of a thank you letter from retiring Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin, sent to those of his constituents who wish him well in whatever he does next. With respect to his legacy, Bonin writes: “By providing housing and services, we are changing lives and providing a pathway out of homelessness. Since the launch of the Venice Beach Encampments to Homes initiative, 76 people have been permanently housed.”

Seventy six people. Remember that number.

Bonin’s philosophy is consistent with what remains of the prevailing progressive doctrine regarding homelessness, known as “Housing First.” It is defined on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website as “an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements.”

This approach has made Bonin infamous even among […] Read More

Will Police Unions try to Change Homeless Policy?

Over the past week two local elected officials in Los Angeles have made public statements on the homeless crisis that grips the region. They represent two completely different perspectives on how to resolve the crisis.

The first comes in the form of a thank you letter from retiring Los Angeles city council member Mike Bonin, sent to those of his constituents who wish him well in whatever he does next. With respect to his legacy, Bonin writes:

“By providing housing and services, we are changing lives and providing a pathway out of homelessness. Since the launch of the Venice Beach Encampments to Homes initiative, 76 people have been permanently housed.” Seventy six people. Remember that number.

Bonin’s philosophy is consistent with what remains the prevailing progressive doctrine regarding homelessness, known as “Housing First.” It is defined on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website as “an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements.”

This approach has made Bonin infamous even among the mostly progressive residents of Venice Beach, where an estimated 2,000 homeless have taken over this tiny beachfront suburb of Los Angeles. Only a small fraction of them have been given “supportive housing” or temporary shelter, and only a small fraction held accountable for using and selling hard drugs, public intoxication, theft, vandalism, or worse.

The other […] Read More

The Homeless Industrial Complex and the California State Budget

AUDIO/VIDEO: How attempts to help the homeless have been taken over by the Homeless Industrial Complex, a system of legalized corruption where billions of dollars are wasted building “supportive housing” at a cost of over $500,000 per unit, and only developers and politicians benefit. 2nd segment: A quick look at California’s just-released 2021-22 State Budget proposal – 18 minutes on KABC Los Angeles – Edward Ring on the Larry O’Connor Show.

https://civicfinance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-01-14-Edward-Ring-on-Larry-OConnor-18-minutes-KABC-Los-Angeles.mp3

Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.

edwardring.com

Mayor Garcetti’s Homeless Policy is Destroying Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is arguably the most incompetent, destructive, negligent, no good, irresponsible mayor in American history. And he’s got plenty of competition, especially now. San Francisco’s London Breed, Ted Wheeler in Portland, Bill DeBlasio in New York City. Blue City mayors bent on destroying civilization are plentiful, but Eric Garcetti is the worst member of this odious gang.

It isn’t as if Garcetti doesn’t have partners in the ongoing annihilation of urban civilization in what ought to be America’s magnificent megacity on the Pacific Rim. He’s got a city council that is equally corrupt and delusional, and a newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney, George Gascon, who is one of the most dangerous, pompous imbeciles to ever live. But Garcetti is in the bully pulpit. Garcetti sets the tone. Garcetti could make a positive difference if he had the vision and the guts. The buck stops with Garcetti.

Garcetti attracted well deserved outrage when he not only arbitrarily enforced “lockdown” orders throughout most of 2020, but went a step further and posted a page online – still up – where people can turn in anyone they think is violating the “Safer at Home” order. Then, just in case anyone hadn’t yet realized what a sinister authoritarian they had as mayor, Garcetti set up a bounty to encourage people to turn in their neighbors, and announced to the press that “snitches get rewards.”

The arbitrary enforcement of pandemic restrictions make Garcetti’s snitch hotline particularly […] Read More

Homeless Anarchy in Los Angeles

Anyone thinking about blaming the police for the anarchy that grips America’s liberal cities is not paying attention. The police know how to do their jobs, but the politicians, elected by progressive liberals, do not let them. And often enough, even when there are laws left on the books that might permit prosecution, activist prosecutors, also elected by progressive liberals, do not press charges.

Life in California, as usual, epitomizes this dysfunction. In 2014 voters approved Proposition 47, which downgraded drug and property crimes. In 2016 voters approved Proposition 57, which released thousands of nonviolent criminals. Back in 2006, the ACLU prevailed in the Jones vs City of Los Angeles case; the judgment prohibits arrests for vagrancy unless there is a space available in a homeless shelter.

The result of these laws is predictable enough. California’s unsheltered homeless population is now more numerous than all the rest of the homeless in the United States combined. And why not? Along with great weather, there are no serious legal consequences for being intoxicated on methamphetamine or heroin, much less marijuana or alcohol, nor are their serious legal consequences for stealing to support your drug habit. And if you want to set up a tent, almost anywhere, nobody can make you move along until they provide you a shelter.

If California is ground zero for urban anarchy, Venice Beach is one of the epicenters. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-election planned rioting turned the anarchy up two notches, […] Read More

How the Homeless Industrial Complex Plans to Destroy Venice Beach

“I intend on putting in another proposal in the next week or two that asks the city to look at the federal bailout or stimulus funds we’ll be getting as a result of this crisis…and using some of that to either buy hotels that go belly up or to buy the distressed properties that are absolutely going to be on the market at cheaper prices after this crisis is over. And use that as homeless and affordable housing. It’s going to be a hell of a lot cheaper to purchase stuff that is already there and move people in there than if we start from scratch. A lot of good stuff is being done.” – Mike Bonin, LA City Councilmember, 11th District, remarks at 4/18 virtual town hall

It isn’t often you’ll find a politician revealing so explicitly what they’re intending to do, especially when it involves the displacement of an entire well-established community. Nor is it often, if ever, that something so tragic and disruptive as a disease pandemic comes along to hasten the accomplishment of such a nefarious objective.

The policies being enacted in California, and in Los Angeles in particular, to help the “unhoused” find shelter, have little to do with helping the “unhoused.” If they did, the problem would have been solved years ago. Venice Beach provides an excellent case study in how everything being done to help the “unhoused” has a hidden agenda.

The key to understanding this hidden agenda is to recognize that […] Read More

The Manger vs The Monster

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7

Advocates for the homeless frequently invoke biblical passages in order to appeal to the Christian compassion that still guides the hearts of most Americans, whether they are religious or secular. “No room at the inn,” is a phrase the American Left relies upon to justify everything from open borders and immigration amnesty to affordable housing and homeless shelters. But what sort of inn? An inexpensive manger that is warm, dry, and safe? Or an overbuilt monstrosity? Both options are warm, dry, and safe, but the monster is so grossly expensive that only a few find shelter.

California’s policies currently favor these overbuilt monstrosities, with the biggest losers the homeless. The average cost for “permanent supportive housing” in California is now easily in excess of a half million per unit. A recent audit in the City of Los Angeles estimated the average cost at $550,000 per unit. According to a program overview released by the Santa Clara County’s Office of Supportive Housing, their average cost is in excess of $500,000 per unit. In San Francisco, according to a report released by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, over $700,000 per unit. Across the Bay in Alameda County, a 2018 report released by the City of Oakland discloses average costs of over $600,000 per unit. […] Read More

How Trump Can Declare War on the Homeless Industrial Complex

California’s homeless crisis is now visible to everyone living in the state. Along with tens of thousands of homeless who are concentrated in various districts of the major cities, additional thousands are widely dispersed. If you drive into most major urban centers, you will see their tent encampments along freeway junctions, under bridges, along frontages, beside drainage culverts. Even in very small towns, they congregate by the dozens in parks and parking lots, along the streets and in the alleys. In California’s largest cities, by the tens of thousands, they erect makeshift housing along sidewalks, using tarpaulins draped over shopping carts, tents, boxes. It is completely out of control. Billions have been spent to ameliorate the situation, and these billions have only served to make the situation worse than ever.

It’s hard to identify ground zero for California’s homeless crisis. But the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County host, between them, well over 100,000 of California’s estimated 130,000 homeless. And in both of those metros, local government policies have utterly failed. This failure is partly because local elected officials are hampered by state laws which make it nearly impossible to incarcerate petty thieves and drug addicts, or institutionalize the mentally ill, and court rulings that prohibit breaking up homeless encampments unless these homeless can be provided free and permanent “supportive housing.”

The state and federal governments have even mandated that providing “housing first,” and getting every homeless person under a roof prior to any allocations of funds […] Read More

How Federal Intervention Can Ease California’s Homeless Crisis

On October 24, Curbed LA reported that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to provide an additional $24 million in homeless housing bonds to “repurpose a building (207) on the Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles for housing for veterans.” According to the article, the rehabilitated building would provide 59 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and chronically homeless senior Veterans.”

According to Ryan Thompson, writing for VeniceUpdate.com, the developer’s budget for this rehab project is $54.6 million, which equates to a per unit cost of $926,000. In his write-up, Thompson not only questions the astronomical per unit price tag, but the entire process whereby these contracts were awarded and how the designated developers were selected. It warrants close reading.

Spending up to one million dollars per unit to not even create new housing, but to upgrade an existing structure, is not an outlier. These astronomical costs are typical. In Venice Beach, a new structure being proposed to accommodate homeless and low income residents is budgeted, including the value of the land, at over $200 million, in order to create 140 new apartment units. That’s a cost of $1.4 million per unit.

In order to assist the homeless, in 2016, Los Angeles voters approved Prop. HHH, authorizing $1.2 billion to construct “supportive housing.” As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the total project cost, on average, for the few thousand units that will eventually get built is $550,000 each.

Up north, the San […] Read More