Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Homeless in LA

 

I work as the director of a faith-based homeless shelter. Housing First is the public policy idea that we should first build apartments where people can live, then worry about things like addictions and finding jobs. Case management is optional.

These homes will be centers of drug use, prostitution, and worse. The problems plaguing someone camping four blocks from where he grew up won’t be solved by Housing First because what makes people homeless isn’t the lack of a home. Homelessness is a symptom, not the disease, even in Los Angeles. My fair city of Boise, ID is the fastest-growing city in America. Guess where everyone’s from? People who are enough on the ball can do something about LA housing prices — and they’re doing it.

People can and do go from homelessness to fruitful lives when they have faith, family, and finances. Governments are not good at restoring — or creating — those things. Los Angelenos would be better off supporting private sector, faith-based non-profits. When the Housing First apartments become uninsurable in a few years, a donor can help the Union Rescue Mission buy them for 10 cents on the dollar, take the walls down to the studs, and rebuild something with a chance at succeeding.

There are 16 comments.

  1. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I hope you write more on this topic in the future. It’s an important societal issue that is often oversimplified to the point where our solutions do more harm than good.

    • #1
    • March 9, 2018, at 8:49 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  2. Retail Lawyer Member

    Thank you for this distillation of the homeless problem. It seems so obvious to me.

    San Francisco is well into its Homeless Industrial Complex phase, with bureaucrats earning probably well into 6 figures tasked with reducing the problem (while insuring it remains so they keep the cushy job).

    Oakland’s famous mayor has started a program for housed residents to share their home with a homeless family or person! This at least has the virtue of demonstrating to the volunteering household where the real problem of homelessness is.

    • #2
    • March 9, 2018, at 9:29 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Quake Voter Inactive

    Here’s the keystone paragraph from the LAT’s on-the-ground reporter:

    People left behind by the economic recovery can’t compete with young professionals who have bid rents up to record levels.

    How many billions will be wasted investing in this polite liberal fantasy?

    At least the editors inserted a few photos. A photo is certainly worth more than a thousand words in this piece:

    After photos showed portable toilets on skid row being used for prostitution, the city hauled them away in 2006. Now plans are underway for shelter expansions, trailer camps, mobile showers and bathrooms, and parking lots for homeless people to sleep in their cars.

    A man sleeps on the sidewalk in front of the Union Rescue Mission in the skid row neighborhood of Los Angeles.

    • #3
    • March 9, 2018, at 9:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Ambrianne Member
    Ambrianne

    Oakland’s famous mayor has started a program for housed residents to share their home with a homeless family or person! This at least has the virtue of demonstrating to the volunteering household where the real problem of homelessness is.

    Wow. Someone should call CPS on Her Honor if there are any children under 18 in any of these homes.

    • #4
    • March 9, 2018, at 10:19 AM PST
    • Like
  5. JosePluma Thatcher

    Ambrianne (View Comment):
    Oakland’s famous mayor has started a program for housed residents to share their home with a homeless family or person! This at least has the virtue of demonstrating to the volunteering household where the real problem of homelessness is.

    Wow. Someone should call CPS on Her Honor if there are any children under 18 in any of these homes.

    I really doubt that many take her up on it. Most of these people want someone else to solve the problem.

    The thing about the homeless themselves is that they have burned all of their bridges. They are so unpleasant to deal with that all their family and friends have fled. The people who deal with them all the time understand that and can cope; a random person “wanting to help” may not.

    Also, with the absurd tenancy laws in California, they are almost impossible to evict once ensconced.

    One question I have for the mayor: How many homeless and illegals are living in your house?

    • #5
    • March 9, 2018, at 11:44 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Ambrianne Member
    Ambrianne

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Ambrianne (View Comment):
    Oakland’s famous mayor has started a program for housed residents to share their home with a homeless family or person! This at least has the virtue of demonstrating to the volunteering household where the real problem of homelessness is.

    Wow. Someone should call CPS on Her Honor if there are any children under 18 in any of these homes.

    I really doubt that many take her up on it. Most of these people want someone else to solve the problem.

    The thing about the homeless themselves is that they have burned all of their bridges. They are so unpleasant to deal with that all their family and friends have fled. The people who deal with them all the time understand that and can cope; a random person “wanting to help” may not.

    Also, with the absurd tenancy laws in California, they are almost impossible to evict once ensconced.

    One question I have for the mayor: How many homeless and illegals are living in your house?

    The number one thing I look for in a job applicant is whether she is an active member of her faith community. That is the top predictor of whether she’ll be able to cope. She needs to be getting her cup filled on a weekly basis to be able to minister to some very tough customers.

    • #6
    • March 9, 2018, at 11:57 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Retail Lawyer Member

    Ambrianne, I really admire you for serving as director of a faith-based homeless shelter! I can think of no other role where the government (at any level) is so inherently incapable of dealing with the problem. This problem will either fester or be solved, one person at a time, by people like you.

    • #7
    • March 9, 2018, at 12:21 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Ambrianne Member
    Ambrianne

    Thank you. I fell into the job. My friend who is now my boss hired me. She knew I was looking for something different; when my predecessor gave notice she called me and said you need to go to work here and here’s why. She was persuasive.

    • #8
    • March 9, 2018, at 1:30 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. MarciN Member

    It sounds like you have successful rehabilitation methods and resources. I admire you.

    I’m wondering, though, why those couldn’t be set up within an apartment building. If LA combined rehab with housing, it could work well. Especially for people not connected to a faith community of some kind.

    And if you’re not in an area where there is a shortage of rental units, perhaps you don’t have those housing issues. But in areas like mine on Cape Cod, we have a shortage of affordable housing. We have found that a person can’t become a functioning independent worker without a home. In other words, a person can’t get a home without having a job, and a person can’t get a job without having a home. I think that’s where the housing-first initiatives are coming from. They are trying to solve one part of the equation.

    I think this is a local issue with solutions differing depending on the community.

    Parents with minor children, by the way, accept help and get on their feet much faster than other people. Parents have someone to live for.

    Mentally ill people need assisted living–housekeeping, medical care, and rehabilitation help. Many of them, especially where I live on Cape Cod, would benefit from a housing-first plan. I have heard many social workers say that having a home helped mentally ill people enormously.

    • #9
    • March 9, 2018, at 3:13 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Ambrianne Member
    Ambrianne

    I couldn’t agree more that housing and rehab is a winning combination. The question becomes, how do you force the rehab? The answer is, you don’t and can’t and won’t when camping is a socially acceptable choice, which it has become.

    Camping should be illegal. It’s dangerous for women and children and not all that safe or wonderful for healthy young men, which they aren’t for very long once they’re chronically homeless for awhile.

    • #10
    • March 9, 2018, at 3:36 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Dad Dog Member

    “World,” the leading Christian news-magazine, tells both sides of the story, echoing Ambrianne’s concerns:

    https://world.wng.org/2017/11/housing_shorts

    • #11
    • March 9, 2018, at 4:21 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    We have found here in the Pacific Northwest that only 10% of the homeless accept housing when offered it. The majority live on the street by choice (because they can).

    • #12
    • March 9, 2018, at 4:57 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. MarciN Member

    Dad Dog (View Comment):
    “World,” the leading Christian news-magazine, tells both sides of the story, echoing Ambrianne’s concerns:

    https://world.wng.org/2017/11/housing_shorts

    It works for some people but not others. Yep.

    • #13
    • March 9, 2018, at 6:02 PM PST
    • Like
  14. MarciN Member

    I wish communities would start homelessness prevention programs. We have one on Cape Cod–the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing (HECH)–that has become a model for the rest of Massachusetts. The HECH helps families stay in housing when they fall into arrears on mortgage or utility payments. The founders decided it was easier and cheaper to prevent homelessness than to start from scratch with an individual or a family.

    The theory, however, is applicable on a wider basis.

    There are certain transitions in modern life where we know homelessness is apt to occur:

    High school graduation or dropping out of high school

    College graduation or dropping out of college

    Aging out of foster care

    Divorce

    Death of a parent or spouse

    The end of substance abuse treatment

    Loss of a job

    Bankruptcy

    Eviction

    Foreclosure

    Disability

    End of military service

    Getting out of prison

    Etc.

    If we could intervene at those points, we could prevent some of the homelessness we are seeing. The idea is that we raise awareness in schools and hospitals and other places to ask people directly, “Do you have a home?” This was the strategy employed to help abused women. A direct question proved helpful: “Are you being abused? If so, call this number.” People hate asking for help. Sometimes we need to offer it in a respectful and helpful way.

    I keep thinking of Kevin Williamson’s suggestion that people move to a place better suited to their job skills and so on. These transition moments are the times to make that happen if it would help. A coordinated jobs and relocation network for people would help prevent some homelessness.

    I’m not saying this would help everyone, but it would reduce the number in a humane and supportive way.

    Then we can work on the rest of the people whose problems defy these preventive strategies.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on Ricochet, we need congregate-living and assisted-living apartment complexes for severely mentally ill people. That would get another group off the streets.

    This is a problem that needs to be whittled away. Big one-size-fits-all solutions will fail.

    • #14
    • March 9, 2018, at 6:30 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Weeping Member

     

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Ambrianne (View Comment):
    Oakland’s famous mayor has started a program for housed residents to share their home with a homeless family or person! This at least has the virtue of demonstrating to the volunteering household where the real problem of homelessness is.

    Wow. Someone should call CPS on Her Honor if there are any children under 18 in any of these homes.

    I really doubt that many take her up on it. Most of these people want someone else to solve the problem.

    The thing about the homeless themselves is that they have burned all of their bridges. They are so unpleasant to deal with that all their family and friends have fled. The people who deal with them all the time understand that and can cope; a random person “wanting to help” may not.

    Also, with the absurd tenancy laws in California, they are almost impossible to evict once ensconced.

    One question I have for the mayor: How many homeless and illegals are living in your house?


    The bolded alone would be enough to keep me from participating in such a program. I might be willing to consider it if I could choose who came to live with me. But without being able to easily ask the person to leave/have him removed if things didn’t work out, no way would I be willing to participate in a program like that.

    • #15
    • March 10, 2018, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A much-needed post, thank you.

    Institutions are usually not the solution, but they can certainly be a large part of the problem.

    • We have many obstructions to getting mental health solutions to those who need it.
    • Faith-based organizations are barred at every turn, thanks to the idea that it is better to be homeless and miserable than religious and rebuilding.
    • Housing codes and enforcement make housing much more expensive than it needs to be.
    • Private individuals are unable to do much because of laws protecting squatters that endanger the good citizen if they try to help.
    • We should allow and encourage “adoption” contracts that are essentially labor contracts in return for room and board.
    • #16
    • March 10, 2018, at 5:44 PM PST
    • 4 likes