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On March 8 The Signal published a column by Gary Horton entitled “Deciding to decisively end homelessness.”

It seems that Gary and I agree on this issue, and I’m sure that blows his mind as much as it does mine.

In his column he called Measure H a “boondoggle of epic proportions,” and I’m right there with him. He also states, “We’ve got to have the backbone to declare homelessness plainly unacceptable and even ‘illegal.’”

The problem, as I pointed out in my own column urging a “no” vote on Measure H, is that the measures that used to be in place to combat homelessness – and they were pretty effective – were deemed decades ago to be violations of the rights of homeless people to self-determination and autonomy.

The “declare it illegal” strategy, as effective as it was, was nullified. That ship has sailed.

I actually believe that was proper, because if one class of people can have their rights taken away based solely on their economic status, none of us is safe.

Gary speaks of “zoning to allow both government and private enterprise to build affordable, or even free, housing,’ and maybe there’s a partial answer there.

But that has to be done in a realistic manner, putting aside the pie-in-the-sky approach so many bleeding hearts want to impose by forcing “affordable” housing into existing or developing communities in which such housing isn’t a natural fit with the rest of that community.

Sticking Section Eight or other “affordable” housing units in the middle of a planned gated community, for example, isn’t going to work, on many levels, and it also unfairly penalizes property owners who will suffer loss of the value of their homes when such units are dropped in their midst like meteorites falling from the sky.

Yes, areas can be specifically zoned for such housing, but then we have to accept that we’re just creating more “projects,” like Nickerson Gardens in Los Angeles and other such disaster areas.

And that still doesn’t address the unfortunate fact that, unlike in the movies, you can build it and a lot of people still won’t come.

It doesn’t acknowledge the reality that some homeless choose to be so, or are unable to live in such units due to mental deficiency or substance abuse, and simply won’t avail themselves of such accommodations.

So it seems he and I agree on the nature of the problem, and the fact that Measure H is going to be less than useless in actually “solving” it, but differ on what can actually be done about it.

Gary said he’s going to make some proposals in an upcoming column, and I’m eager to see what he proposes.

Frankly, I don’t see an actual solution that’s practical and legal.

Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.

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  • Gary Bierend

    Great column Brian.

    Measure H passed because people have compassion, which is great, but we’ve seen this story before, and it always ends the same way.

    • Brian Baker

      Thanks, Gary. Yes, it does always end the same way: these programs fail to meet their stated goals, and the backers always come back for more, claiming the failure was due to not spending quite enough money the first time around.

      Wash, rinse, repeat.

  • Gil Mertz

    If we’ve learned nothing since America has spent about $22-trillion on poverty since 1964, it’s that more money will not solve homelessness.

    • Brian Baker

      Yes, but unfortunately too many people have apparently NOT learned that lesson.

      • Ron Bischof

        That surfaces the issue that these enormously expensive programs aren’t subject to rigorous cost/benefit analysis.

        The columns that you and Gary wrote address the salient point: efficacy.

        • Brian Baker

          I agree with you regarding the efficacy of such programs from a cost/benefit standpoint.

          But the legality aspect is also very important to me. The policies in place decades ago that used vagrancy and other such laws to involuntarily institutionalize and even jail the homeless were certainly very efficacious. But they were a grotesque violations of their rights to autonomy and self-determination based solely on their economic status, as I mentioned in
          the column.

          So that’s another element of the problem that I don’t see being addressed, or even acknowledged, anywhere.

          • Ron Bischof

            Concur on the socioeconomic civil liberty aspect, Brian.

            Recollect that Hopeful touched on involuntary commitment of the mentally ill as well and the challenges the legal decisions caused for their families.

          • Brian Baker

            I do recall that, Ron. And there’s no doubt those decisions did cause problems, not only for the families but for the homeless themselves.

            I don’t claim to know the answers. In fact, as I wrote on the comment thread on Gary’s column, sometimes problems exist for which there are NO actual “solutions”. This may be one of them, at least in a free society that affords actual liberty to its citizens.

  • lois eisenberg

    “Still searching for a solution to homelessness”
    Still searching for the compassion and empathy toward the homeless and especially
    their children!

    • Brian Baker

      Y’know, I usually just ignore the tripe you scribble on these threads. It’s reliably worthless.

      But in this case, I’m going to make an exception.

      Throwing wasted money at a problem isn’t “compassion” at all. It’s sheer stupidity. Particularly when it isn’t going to actually achieve any results that will be meaningful, or solve that problem.

      But why don’t you show the way, and lead in that “compassion”, by inviting some homeless people to come live with you in your home? Wouldn’t THAT be the “compassionate” thing to do?

      You’re pretty quick to criticize others, so why don’t you lead by example?

      • lois eisenberg

        “Y’know, I usually just ignore the tripe you scribble on these threads. It’s reliably worthless.”
        Please continue to do so!
        It is so rewarding when the truth stumps you knowing that “fake new ”
        and “alternative news” is all that you can comprehend !

        • Brian Baker

          Or, in plain English, your claimed “compassion” is all for show.

          What a surprise, I’m sure. The only “truth” revealed here is your own vapidity. Here’s your “Participation Award”.

          • lois eisenberg

            Love receiving Awards !

          • lois eisenberg

            Love awards especially the Oscars and all of it’s truthful
            political opinions !

          • Gary Bierend

            Just block her Brian, it’s like blocking a telemarketer on your phone.

            When I read the comments all I see is “This user is blocked”, and it makes me smile.

  • Brother Brian,
    “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The more the things change, the more they stay the same.”
    -Rush “Circumstances”

    It ain’t just California. There is a plan to put low income and Section 8 housing on some land near me, across the street from a FULL elementary school in a solid middle class neighborhood. We’re fighting it, but City Hall wants the federal money. We know the result…..
    Ghetto, plunging property values, skyrocketing crime rates, our good public schools get overcrowded and trashed, and the eventual departure of 80% of the current residents.

    • Brian Baker

      I’m really sorry to hear that, Brother Craw.

      You’re right. If those things DIDN’T happen, it would be a miracle. Probably the first time in modern history, if not ever.

  • Frank Rizzo

    Bobs here.
    Look, I have posted repeatedly on this subject. The notion we are going to “end homelessness” is ridiculous. It will always be here. Measure H in my opinion was a tax increase to make LA Mayor Garcetti look like he is doing something so he can get the Olympics in LA. Follow the money. Truth is it will create aN over sized government body where 5% of the money going in will actually go to help the homeless

    Add to that in California people are more concerned about helping Illegal immigrants than helping our citizens. We allow them to come in and take jobs while our citizens starve on the streets and are looked down upon.

    The morality in this state is about as backwards as you can get. It’s why we have the worst education, roads, infrastructure around! But alas, if you are illegal and commit more crime you will be protected from all the mean people who want to live in peace!

    • Brian Baker

      Amen, Frank!

    • Brian Baker

      BTW… is that a new picture on your FB page?

  • lois eisenberg

    “One Easy Way To Stop Donald Trump’s Wild Claims: Don’t Let Him Talk At All”
    A perfect solution for a BS artist, a con man, a pathological liar !

  • Bill Reynolds

    It occurs to me that the nicer we make it for homeless people, the more homeless we’ll have.

    • Brian Baker

      You bet, Bill. Simple human nature.

    • Ron Bischof

      Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and San Francisco reflect what you observe, Mr. Reynolds.