Meanwhile,Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declares a “state of emergency” over the region’s homelessness problems.
I had to check my calendar to ensure the date wasn’t April 1st, as The Atlantic is poised to publish an article arguing that California and blue states have staggering amounts of homelessness because progressive policies make it difficult to build enough housing to meet demands.
Los Angeles perfectly demonstrates the competing impulses within the left. In 2016, voters approved a $1.2 billion bond measure to subsidize the development of housing for homeless and at-risk residents over a span of 10 years. But during the first five years, roughly 10 percent of the housing units the program was meant to create were actually produced. In addition to financing problems, the biggest roadblock was small groups of objectors who didn’t want affordable housing in their communities.
Los Angeles isn’t alone. The Bay Area is notorious in this regard. In the spring of 2020, the billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen published an essay, “It’s Time to Build,” that excoriated policy makers’ deference to “the old, the entrenched.” Yet it turned out that Andreessen and his wife had vigorously opposed the building of a small number of multifamily units in the wealthy Bay Area town of Atherton, where they live.
In the piece, The Atlantic staff writer takes apart excuses, such as mental health issues and climate, that are often used to account for the crisis in places like California.
..[T] the claim that drug abuse and mental illness are the fundamental causes of homelessness falls apart upon investigation. If mental-health issues or drug abuse were major drivers of homelessness, then places with higher rates of these problems would see higher rates of homelessness. They don’t. Utah, Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, West Virginia, Vermont, Delaware, and Wisconsin have some of the highest rates of mental illness in the country, but relatively modest homelessness levels. What prevents at-risk people in these states from falling into homelessness at high rates is simple: They have more affordable-housing options.
With similar reasoning, we can reject the idea that climate explains varying rates of homelessness. If warm weather attracted homeless people in large numbers, Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New York City; and Boston would not have such high rates of homelessness and cities in southern states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi such low ones.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ new mayor, Karen Bass, has taken a page out of the pandemic playbook and declared a “state of emergency” to deal with the region’s homelessness crisis.
That move, which will require City Council approval, gives her the ability to more quickly create new interim housing and make a plan to get the most vulnerable Angelenos off the streets as winter weather sets in. Bass met with the general managers of city departments, telling them to bring her solutions to make the government more efficient and responsive when addressing homelessness.
…The question is how Bass plans to use the powers afforded to her during an emergency. She has the ability to more quickly dispense money to providers who do the outreach work to homeless people, approve the master-leasing of buildings and expedite the regulatory and permitting processes.
Though she could also commandeer property to provide housing, she told The Times’ editorial board she won’t do that because “you’re going to end up tied up in court forever. I’m looking for the quickest way to do this.”
It’s unclear how much this emergency declaration would cost, if passed, or how many units of interim housing Bass plans to create immediately.
I suspect Bass will continue to push failed policies that will continue to fail…but maybe someone could tuck a copy of “The Atlantic” under her pillow?DONATE
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