We are witness to a humanitarian and historic homelessness crisis that has, after years of laying dormant, surfaced because political leaders have had blinders on to what has been in plain sight for years, while the wrenching reality is of families, children, vets and senior citizens who are going unfed and sleeping on a cold, sometimes wet concrete bed
Homelessness is nothing new. It goes back to 1990 when Gov. George Deukmejian talked about California’s overwhelming homeless problem. And we’re still “talking” about it, and all the voter-approved funding that has gone… where?
As a teen in Chicago I still have a clear vision of homelessness that continues to this day.
Government continues to talk about the need for affordable housing, but most of this rhetoric is trapped in bureaucracies. So, what is one of the reality factors that leads to homelessness? It is the lack of affordable and subsidized housing. A point of fact: All new housing projects should be required to have affordable units. There are 1.5 million school kids who are homeless. Add that to the adults. You ask yourself, “What?” Well, it’s there, you just need to see it and perhaps understand it.
However, building affordable housing is too costly due to all the development fees layered one on top of another, and, therefore affordable housing is too expensive and the profit margin dings it. And yet the resources are there, the voters made that possible.
I take into account the huge three-story “new” building on Soledad Canyon Road with 100,000 square feet that has been sitting vacant for years. This is a clear mismanagement of land. The building is advertised as a medical building, which can, however, easily be turned into a subsidized housing building. After all these years perhaps the city needs to move forward into the possible matter of eminent domain, and turn this 100,000-square-foot building into affordable housing. The location is perfect.
Eminent domain, like the Mello-Roos, has a long and sometimes troubled and unpopular history, but unlike the Mello-Roos, eminent domain can have a positive side if applied fairly and justifiably.
Homeless veterans are part of this scenario. They went off to war offering up their lives so we can live safely, only to return home, many with injuries, to find themselves living in a tent on cold concrete.
One must realize that many homeless people are such through no fault, nor choice, of their own, but rather through circumstances. They all have a history. Somehow, somewhere, they spiraled to this depth of homelessness. Many have dignity and pride, and yet social acceptance confines them.
There’s a reason for people’s downward spiral to being homeless. Yes, some of it is due to addictions, but what about the thousands of others?
If, like Los Angeles, to the degree that they might have, our city does not have a database of homeless people within our city through a homeless management information system that covers homeless people’s background and needs, along with affordable units, we need to venture in this direction.
So what is the answer to this complex situation? We need infrastructure and the services that voter funds have brought forth for this. We need to create programs and training. We need to give people self-worth. Twelve weeks of training can change a life. It can create a goal. We need to stop talking and “do.” The millions of dollars are there that the taxpayers voted for. Do it, do it, do it!