Independent Candidate for CA Governor on Dealing With Homeless Crisis: Acknowledge Addiction and Mental Illness
“My basic view now is that what we call homelessness or homeless encampments are more properly referred to as open drug scenes. These are places where people buy, sell, and use drugs.”
Michael Shellenberger is a writer and political activist who you may have seen in appearances on FOX News. He is a former progressive who wrote a book about the decline of San Francisco called San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities.
He is now running for governor of California and he has some real ideas for handling the state’s homeless problem.
He recently appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast to discuss it.
Shellenberger acknowledged that this problem stems widely from drug abuse, mental illness, and a combination of both. He calls for cities to buy properties to convert to shelters and enforce a no-camping ban.
Shellenberger is not against the idea of going to other states and/or the federal government for financial help if California attracts homeless people from elsewhere due to success. He advocates increasing the number of police and psychiatrists in the state as well.
At one point Shellenberger suggested that people in rehab could repay the state by working on much-needed fire crews.
Watch the segment below:
In March, Shellenberger was interviewed by Daniel Kennelly of City Journal:
As you write in the book, you’ve been a progressive and a Democrat all your life. Could you describe where you started out on these issues?
Visiting San Francisco as a 14-year-old in 1985, I remember seeing people who were clearly psychotic and in dirty clothing talking to themselves, and my stepmother saying that it was because Reagan had let everybody out of the psychiatric hospitals. I didn’t think much more about it, because there were very few visible homeless in Colorado, where I’m from. When I moved to San Francisco in 1993, there were many homeless people in my neighborhood, the Mission District. In particular, the 16th Street BART station was an open drug scene. But still, as late as 2019, I wrote a column for Forbes calling on the governor to declare a state of emergency to build more housing, because I thought homelessness was still primarily a housing issue.
How did you come to write a book that questions so many of those assumptions?
Friends of mine kept telling me that it’s not just a housing issue—that it’s also obviously an addiction and mental illness issue. And I went on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s radio show—to talk about the Amazon and environmental issues—and we got to talking about San Francisco, and he said, yes, it’s a drug addiction and mental illness issue. After my book Apocalypse Never became a bestseller, I had a chance to do another book, and it was obvious that homelessness and addiction deserved such treatment. Ever since, I’ve continued to be shocked by the things that I got wrong in the past. My basic view now is that what we call homelessness or homeless encampments are more properly referred to as open drug scenes. These are places where people buy, sell, and use drugs. Their addiction leads them to live in those places, right where the drugs are, because they’re so sick with addiction. This is not just a problem of people who lost their jobs or couldn’t afford the rent. These are people who are suffering a mental illness, which is what substance-abuse disorder is and should be considered.
I don’t know if Shellenberger has a real shot at winning the California governor race, but it’s great to hear someone talking about the homeless issue so frankly and offering real ideas for handling it.DONATE
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