An article in the Washington Examiner: Homeless and clueless in Oakland and elsewhere in America criticizing the approach to the problem by liberal politicians in Democrat-controlled cities and states would be unsurprising if the author were Heather MacDonald or Larry Elder. It is a surprising when ultra-liberal former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris pairs up with Mary L.G. Theroux of the conservative Independent Institute to write “The bright side of the bay, as Oakland is known, has followed the same failed game plan as most other cities. And that’s why the homeless crisis persists. Unfortunately the Biden administration plans to continue subsidizing the losing strategy.” For most of his long political life Harris has been advancing the liberal, bureaucratic, big government policies that have helped create today’s homeless crisis. He is now confronting the endlessly repeated claims of Democrats in California and nationally that the root cause of homelessness is a shortage of affordable housing. “The change began in 2013 when the Obama administration shifted the focus of federal homelessness funding from programs that provide services to the homeless to their speedy placement into housing. The approach had the opposite effect from what was intended.”
“The shift to housing as the primary solution to homelessness was adopted by California with similarly abysmal results. Homelessness increased from about 139,000 statewide in 2007 to 161,548 in the latest count. Despite the fact that California houses just 12% of the U.S. population, the numbers show it now has 27% of the country’s total homeless population.”
Some politicians have claimed that it’s California’s mild weather that has drawn the homeless to the state but “Florida, Georgia and Texas, other states with generally mild weather, all saw their homeless populations decline during this same period.”
“As much as California leaders hate to have our state compared to Texas, if they want to know what works, they should visit San Antonio….San Antonio and greater Bexar County developed a systemic approach to the problem involving emergency medical services, local hospitals, law enforcement, mental health resources, and nonprofit service providers. Instead of working in silos, they work collectively, in coordination with a communitywide nonprofit organization, Haven for Hope of Bexar County , which provides services based on the needs of each person. The program doesn’t ignore housing, but it also doesn’t overemphasize it. Since the effort became operational in 2010, the county has seen an 11% decline in total homelessness and a 77% decline in unsheltered homelessness in downtown San Antonio.
Programs such as this are designed for success rather than in accordance with whatever approach is in political favor. They also don’t just throw money at the problem: They set goals and use metrics based on outcomes to track and reward success. In the process, the streets become safer and more livable, while homeless people get the help they need.”
When lifelong liberal politicians like Elihu Harris advocate common sense, it is evidence that a tipping point may have been reached.
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