Gary Horton | It’s time to fix rooted roaming

What is it that tarnishes the Golden State more than anything else? What remains maddening year after year?

Obviously, homelessness is our biggest annoyance.

California’s homeless population, including tent dwellers and illegal RV and car dwellers, is estimated at 170,000. That’s the equivalent of two-thirds of the city of Santa Clarita living on the streets, parks, highways, scattered in misery, along our otherwise righteous state. The problem gets bigger every year, despite all the money in the HHH proposal and the other funds we allocate (and then waste).

Gov. Gavin Newsom happily boasts that California is atop the largest budget surplus in state history. Finally, with this, and all the Measure H and HHH taxes that we pay, we have all the funds needed to fix this problem, once and for all – if only we can muster the will of the public to proactively change our derogatory dynamic. public acceptance of homelessness. himself.

Los Angeles has gotten so bad that U.S. District Judge David O. Carter stepped in to mandate a 100% cleanup of Skid Row’s infamous homeless settlements by October 2021. LA must find semi-permanent shelter for some 2,500 homeless people, completely clearing the area and putting these people in hotels, apartments, small villages – whatever is clean and humane. City council is backing down, but a precedent is being set – and David Carter could become a homeless czar – dictating and enforcing action with all the force of law.

The Carter’s Skid Row initiative is a start. But this is only the beginning, and the problem requires something much more comprehensive and permanent to cure homelessness now and forever in the future.

Here’s Liberal Progressive Gary Horton’s pragmatic take on ending homelessness – now that we have the tax windfall firepower of Newsom. First, we must accept and adopt basic standards in our society and our infrastructure. We must agree:

Sidewalks are expressly intended for walking.

The parks are expressly intended for recreation and relaxation.

The streets are for cars, motorcycles and bicycles.

Motorway viaducts are built expressly to allow the circulation of vehicles. Shopping malls are for shoppers.

Public landscaping is designed for beauty and quality of life.

None of these features are designed to accommodate people or for public “camping”. None were built to support the tent cities. We need to take our infrastructure back and restore it to the purpose it was all built for. We have to take back our collective senses and say: “Enough!” We want our infrastructure to be used for the purposes for which it was designed. This means no camping or strolling through parks, streets, sidewalks, malls or overpasses. Not allowed! Our parks, streets and sidewalks were never intended for “camping” and we will stop allowing it.

Is it mean or hard? No, it’s practical, pragmatic and human. To maintain the quality of life for all of us (including our homeless), we must preserve and maintain our public spaces for the original purposes for which they were designed and built.

And what about the 170,000 homeless people we just moved? We have to accept that we, our state, our society, our system, have kind of let these 170,000 siblings cross our social cracks … through broken homes, addiction, disease, mental health issues, losses. jobs and crime. All kinds of things lead to homelessness, and we haven’t been able to stop it – in fact, our system accepts it so far.

One option is to blame the homeless themselves. But preaching “personal responsibility” will not clear our streets. These people’s problems have become our problems – and thank God we now have the money to help them and to reclaim our infrastructure and California’s reputation.

This is a moon stroke. It’s like housing all the GIs when they come back from WWII. It is a gigantic effort. Nonetheless, we know that we can quickly find / build suitable emergency housing – and, most importantly, provide mental and physical health assistance and human service assistance.

We can humanely break the cycle of homelessness by quickly building small, practical and affordable hometowns. We can build entire transitional communities, much like army barracks. We can use closed military sites. We can move people if necessary. But using all the strength of social will, we can build housing sites with full services, taking human care to restore the homeless to ensure a life for them.

This seals the deal for the future: we stick to laws prohibiting public camping and strolling in public spaces designed for other uses. We challenge everything in our path. Our parks will remain parks and the streets will remain streets, and sidewalks, sidewalks. Anyone “camping” on public infrastructure can visit one of our many new humane and beneficial homeless response centers. Zero tolerance for homeless camping.

Our new facilities will provide all the medical care, drug counseling, family counseling and employment support that homeless people and people in transition need. And, when people are stable and upright, they are free to go. Those who are unable to take care of themselves remain cared for until they are better, or until family takes them over, or until they can move in with friends , because public “camping” is simply no longer permitted by our newly adopted standards. If you are so poor or mentally ill that you are “camping” for accommodation, California will step in to help and remedy it.

It seems like a hard line from a liberal man. But the pragmatist in me knows that homelessness will not end until it is made illegal. And when we make it illegal, we also have a moral responsibility to provide massive housing and social support to help homeless people stabilize their lives.

For a society as wealthy as California to now look the other way as our brothers and sisters live in misery is an offense to civility. We can provide human services and take back our public spaces at the same time. We can all win with enough willpower and with the money we currently have.

Our politicians must strengthen themselves to meet this challenge. The unique chance to save California from the permanent and socially normalized misery of the homeless is exactly now. Ending homelessness must become California’s most urgent priority.

“Full Speed ​​to Port!” De Gary Horton has appeared on The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Signal or its editorial board.

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