Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism
Los Angeles used to be known as the epicenter of the entertainment industry, nutty health fads, and compulsive narcissism. These days, it’s ground zero for the homeless crisis and its myths.
Every underpass harbors grimy tent cities with their own colonies of rats and roaches. Schizophrenics wander the most fashionable streets shouting at the sky. Human waste and needles litter downtown streets. Typhus and Hepatitis A spread out from these oases of misery into the general population.
It’s not that the city doesn’t care. If anything, Los Angeles cares too much.
Voters have passed multiple propositions spending over $4.6 billion on the homeless. They raised their own sales tax. They built homeless housing at as much as $500,000 per unit. That’s enough to buy a mansion in some parts of America.
Did that solve the problem? Try walking through one of those tent cities and you’ll find out.
After all this, the number of homeless is up 12% to 58,936 in Los Angeles County and up 16% to 36,165 in Los Angeles. Despite all those billions of dollars thrown at the problem, only 3 districts saw a decrease in the homeless population. Fortunately, no lessons were learned from this Sisyphean exercise.
Billboards all across the city feature a multicultural cast of young activists chanting, “Homes End Homelessness”. The only problem is that homes don’t end homelessness. Homelessness is not the problem, it’s a symptom of the problem. That’s the real news in the latest homeless numbers.
While pro-homeless activists falsely claimed that only 29% of LA’s homeless had drug and alcohol problems or mental illness, the Los Angeles Times, after reviewing the same questionnaires used as the basis for the data, found that actually 67% had a mental illness or drug and alcohol problems.
29% to 67% is a huge difference.
But, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s acting executive director explained that it was a format issue. The difference between a majority of the homeless have drug, alcohol issues and suffer from mental illness, and only a minority do, is a formatting issue as big as a typhus outbreak.
Fudging the numbers completely transforms reality.
Pro-homeless activists blame the homeless crisis on the free market which pegs home values and rentals to what people are willing to pay, as opposed to what a bunch of non-profits think they ought to be. But most people don’t react to being priced out of housing by staying in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and spending the day shouting at the sky. They move somewhere affordable. Homelessness does tend to overlap with high rental prices, but those overlap with lefty cities, and the social and policy problems that come from their cultures and their political agendas.
Homelessness is not the issue. It’s a symptom of the real problems of drug abuse and mental illness.
It’s not as if we didn’t already know this. The man standing outside a supermarket and shouting that they stole his spleen in Schenectady is not suffering from high real estate prices. In modern times, vagrants, the old, more accurate term, are victims of their personal demons, not capitalism.
The homeless myth is built on denying the obvious.
Or, as the LA Times headline puts it, “Are many homeless people in L.A. mentally ill? New findings back the public’s perception.” Yes, your eyes aren’t lying to you. The activists gaslighting you however are.
That 67% isn’t the result of expert estimates. It’s self-reported. The activists conducting the ‘Point in Time’ count that is used to estimate the homeless population ask each homeless person if they have “substance abuse issues” or a “mental health problem”. 46% of the homeless interviewed were willing to state that they had a substance abuse problem and 51% that they were suffering from mental illness.
The two obviously overlap quite a bit.
But the actual numbers are going to be much worse than the self-reported numbers.
The University of California’s Policy Lab interviewed 64,000 homeless people nationwide and found that 50% of homeless people said that mental illness had contributed to their homelessness and 51% said that drugs and alcohol issues had contributed to their homelessness.
Whom are you going to believe, the homeless or the activists who continue to lie about them?
78% reported that they suffered from mental problems and 75% from substance abuse problems.
Among homeless women, 95% blamed mental health problems for their homelessness.
These numbers completely destroy the myth of homelessness. The issue isn’t the availability of housing. It’s a social problem caused by drugs, mental illness and broken families. The term ‘homeless’ is wrong. It perpetuates a myth in which the issue is free market real estate and neighborhood gentrification.
The myth hurts the homeless, who are actually people with mental issues and drug problems, but boosts the billions of dollars in spending passing through groups with vested interests in diverting attention from the real problems while waging the traditional lefty campaign against capitalism.
As the numbers continue to tell the truth, the homeless gaslighting has become ridiculous.
The executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority claimed that his agency’s numbers were accurate and insisted that the homeless were just like everyone else. “Most people with mental illness are housed. The vast majority of people with serious substance abuse issues are housed. They’re using their substances in their bedrooms and in their living rooms and you’re not watching it.”
Even in LA, 67% of the population isn’t so mentally ill or abusing so many drugs that they can’t function.
The homeless myth has created the homeless crisis by enabling dysfunctional behavior by a dysfunctional population. The measures that pro-homeless activists have claimed would help the homeless have hurt them badly. Allowing people with mental illness and drug problems to live on the streets has led to unsanitary conditions and disease outbreaks that have primarily hurt the homeless.
A fortune has been plowed into constructing insanely overpriced housing units, while the homeless population continues to grow, because the cause of homelessness has nothing to do with homes.
The homeless aren’t the victims of the free market, but of the socialists using them as political weapons.
The homeless crisis is what happened when lefty cities legalized drugs, stopped institutionalizing the severely mentally ill, while legalizing street camping and pouring billions into homeless services.
Homes don’t solve homelessness. Treating mental illness and fighting drug use does.