I really thought that the Measure H and HHH were worthy experiments to combat homelessness in LA County. Boy, was I wrong.
In case you forgot, we passed a sales tax increase of 0.25% on all purchases made in the county. The intent was to raise $355 million in revenue to fight the homelessness scourge. I’ve seen budget expenditure figures as high as $619 million in one year (2019, as I recall).
What did it buy us? In 2019, the last numbers I can find, homelessness increased 12% in L.A. County and 16% in the city over the 2018 number (the year the tax increase happened and money started flowing).
Increased homeless people. For more money. If this was a business, everyone would have been fired.
Anyone who has driven around any part of L.A. knows that the city is overrun and getting worse. I drive to work along the 210 freeway, at the severe north end of the San Fernando Valley. The encampments are everywhere with trash blowing down the hillsides and across the freeways.
No, by any measure, this problem is getting worse, not better. And the increased funding seems to have accelerated the issue.
Why is that? With all these resources, we should be getting a handle on the issue but are not. I have a theory. The second best writer in our household, a member of The Mighty Signal News Staff and Police Scanner Detail, told me that a public information officer for one of the funded agencies makes $72,000 per year.
Bear in mind, the only thing a PIO does is read a prepared statement to reporters and repeat “no comment” when asked relevant questions.
And that is just the start. All of this funding has created a gigantic homeless service bureaucracy that is doing nothing to stem the tide of this growing problem. I know of at least one director in a homeless agency that was making $175K. Incredible.
This makes Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s activity so interesting in Venice, a city that has been overrun by homeless encampments, which has ruined the quality of life for residents. This excellent sheriff simply said “no more.” He intends to clean up Venice by July 4.
Where have you been, sheriff? This is exactly what we have been waiting for! A public official who has the guts to take on the homele$$ness lobby. Since the L.A. Police Department has been hamstrung by worthless public officials like Councilman Mike Bonin, it’s about time someone exercised a little common sense.
And it does not take $355 million to do it. Just one guy with a backbone (and some armed deputies) to clean it up.
And, lest we think he is being heavy-handed, he is getting folks the services that they need. This is something that this massive homelessness bureaucracy should have done.
I saved the best part for last.
The homele$$ness lobby in Sacramento is pushing for a $1 billion funding initiative to “solve homelessness.” I kid you not. If you think the problem is bad now, wait until these massive funds are added. This will create an even bigger incentive for communities in neighboring states to dump their homeless citizens on us.
We will be saddled with an even bigger and more inert bureaucracy.
I’ve got an idea. Let’s steal that billion dollars for something we really need. Why not create a state mental health care system like we used to have and get proper care for these folks? I’ve heard estimates of 20-33% of the homeless are mentally ill and need care. There are many who believe the number to be much higher (50-60%).
And, yes, they must be committed unwillingly and not allowed to wander the streets dirty and sick. That is far more cruel. Shame on the liberals and ACLU that forced this to happen many years ago.
If you think this is a good idea, feel free to contact Gov. Gavin Newsom via Twitter @GavinNewsom and tell him that we need a state mental health hospital system to care for the homeless and this billion dollars would be a great start.
Alternatively, you can contact [email protected] or [email protected] and tell them that what we are doing is not working. We must do the moral and ethical thing and create mental health facilities that care for the most vulnerable in our society.
Let’s get that money diverted to something we know will work and not creating more government boondoggles. And clean up our streets (you go, Sheriff Villanueva).
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is not afraid to say he was wrong. Which is very rare. In fact, this might be the first time.