Solid Common Sense on Homelessness

A great article from Christopher F. Rufo in Seattle describing their situation, which fits Sacramento all too well, and he offers sound, researched solutions to solving the emergency.

An excerpt.

Abstract

The City of Seattle has failed to address its current homelessness crisis. In fact, because of ideological capture and poor policy decisions, the city has created a system of perverse incentives that has only made the crisis worse. In order to truly confront the problem of homelessness, the city’s leadership must embrace a policy of realism: quickly build emergency shelter, enforce the law against public camping, and dismantle the system of perverse incentives. Ultimately, the city has enough resources to solve the crisis—it must summon the political courage to break free from its current ideological deadlock and implement better policies.

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SEATTLE is a city under siege. Over the past five years, the Emerald City has endured a slow-rolling explosion of homelessness, crime, and addiction. In a one-night count this winter, there were 11,643 people sleeping in tents, cars, and emergency shelters. 1

Property crime has skyrocketed to rates two-and-a-half times that of Los Angeles and four times that of New York City. 2 Cleanup crews pick up tens of thousands of dirty needles from the streets and parks across the city. 3

At the same time, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Seattle metro area spends more than $1 billion on the homelessness crisis every year. 4 That’s nearly $100,000 for every homeless man, woman, and child in King County, yet the crisis seems to only have deepened, with more addiction, more crime, and more tent encampments staking their claim in residential neighborhoods. By any measurement, whatever the city is doing now is not working.

The City of Seattle has failed to address ideological capture and poor policy decisions and the city has created a system of perverse incentives that has only made the crisis worse. In order to truly confront the problem of homeless- ness, the city’s leadership must embrace a policy of realism: quickly build emergency shelter, enforce the law against public camping, and dismantle the system of perverse incentives.

Over the past year, I’ve spent time in city council meetings, political rallies, homeless encampments, and rehabilitation facilities hoping to understand this para-dox: how is it possible that the government spends so much money and, at the same time, makes so little impact? While most of the debate on homelessness has focused on the technical questions that make up the superstructure of our public policy— should we build more shelters, should we build supervised injection sites—I learned that in order to truly unravel this paradox, we must to examine the deeper assumptions and beliefs that have come to shape the way we think about homelessness in cities like Seattle.

As I delved into the story, I discovered that the real battle isn’t being waged in the tents, under the bridges, or in the corridors of City Hall. Rather, there’s a deeper, ideological war that’s currently being won by a loose alliance of four major power centers: the socialist revolutionaries, the compassion brigades, the homeless-industrial complex, and the addiction evangelists. Together, these four groups have framed the political debate, diverted hundreds of millions of dollars towards favored projects, and recruited a large phalanx of well-intentioned voters who have bought into the “politics of unlimited compassion.”

If we want to truly break through the failed status quo on homelessness in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, we must first understand the dynamics of ideological battlefield, identify the fatal flaws in our current policies, and fundamentally reframe the way we understand the crisis. Until then, we’ll continue to dream up utopian schemes that end in failure and despair.

Retrieved October 29, 2018 from https://chrisforseattle.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Homelessness-Report.pdf?utm_

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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