A lot of homeless folks DID move to Los Angeles

In “Economics lesson from McKinsey regarding the homeless in Seattle” I wondered the following:

The McKinsey geniuses don’t answer the question that always strikes me when I’m in Seattle and I see homeless folks camping in the cold rain: Since these unfortunate souls don’t have a job or a house, why don’t most of them move to Santa Monica and camp in a warm dry climate?

It seems that quite a few have done this! From a recent NYT, “In Los Angeles, Where the Rich and the Destitute Cross Paths”:

In recent years, homelessness has leapt beyond its old boundaries, with more than 53,000 people living without homes this year. This means that Angelenos are encountering homeless people in places they never did before.

For many in Los Angeles, the spread of homelessness is a challenge to their identities as political progressives. Some are angered by the presence of the homeless and some communities have mobilized to keep shelters out of their neighborhoods.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has called homelessness the “moral crisis of our time,” and voters have approved millions of dollars to tackle the issue.

Across Los Angeles communities oppose new housing for the homeless. “It’s fear of the other,” [John Maceri, executive director of The People Concern, a social services agency] said. “It’s ‘those people.’ It’s ‘them.’”

“Millions of dollars”? Enough to buy one third of a house in Santa Monica, in other words? (well, not one third of a nice 15,000 square foot house, nor anything in the Bel Air neighborhood) And this will substantially assist 53,000 homeless people?

How is it that in a place where nearly everyone votes for Democrats and professes a desire to help the “vulnerable,” the only person that the reporter could find with a kind word for the local homeless is Mr. Maceri, a guy whose paycheck depends on the continued supply of local homeless?

The reader comments are kind of interesting:

cbarber from San Pedro: If i was homeless(i’m one paycheck from the street) LA is where I’d want to live. The weather is great and you wouldn’t have to worry about freezing to death at night.

Reader In Wash, DC: Another reason to crack down on illegal aliens. According to Pew Research there are 500,000 illegal aliens in NY metro area. If they double and triple up and they do to save cost even at 10 people per unit that is 50,000 housing units off the market. Why bleeding heart liberals want to turn the US into a 3rd world slum is a mystery.

Papaya in Belmont, CA: Same with us “empathetic” Bay Area residents. We support the disadvantaged and poor in theory but NIMBY. We consistently reject most ballot measures that may even allow our teachers, police and fire departments to actually live in the cities they serve. If those with middle class salaries won’t be helped, how do homeless people have a chance?

Aaron (A-aron?) in Orange County: Why can’t we send these people to Detroit? Detroit has thousands of empty tract homes and open land.. We just need a few billion dollars to re-build the place. In addition, if European nations decided to contribute they can send their immigrants to us. Detroit can be a worldwide refuge for homeless and immigrant populations. A convergence of diversity and creativity.

GeorgePTyrebyter, Flyover, USA: There is a simple reason that LA has this crisis: the tidal wave of illegals. Illegals drive up the cost of rental housing, by increasing demand. They take the low-end jobs. That 18YO-19YO couple would in years past been able to get jobs dishwashing or other low end jobs, but these are taken by illegals. Schools in CA are being destroyed by the cost of ESL and the needs to take care of far more kids than planned for. Illegals need to be booted, to allow US citizens to live in the US.

DickeyFuller, DC: But I am not for giving them housing in the expensive cities of Washington, NY, Boston, SF, LA and Seattle. If middle class folks cannot afford to live there then there is reason for them to expect we will house them there. No. You don’t get to pick your free housing. We’ll build homeless housing in states where the cost of living is dirt cheap — Oklahoma, for example. Way upstate New York. The rural South.

sob, Boston: Thanks to the NYT to bring this issue to light. Seems to me that the liberal California politicians, who have had complete control of both houses and the governorship have shown the country their true contempt for the poor. The more they talk the worse the poverty gets, and yet the mostly liberal media can’t bring themselves to tell the truth.

Scott, Los Angeles: Homeless is the new scam industry to keep city employees/agencies busy and justify the jobs of the people that work there. … Santa Monica is paying their Homeless Director $150K+yr. Her only credential – a self chosen degree from a for profit diploma mill AND she got canned by the city of LA prior!

William Case: The U.S. Census Bureau now publishes an annual poverty report titled the Supplemental Poverty Measure that takes regional cost of living into account. The report is changing perceptions regarding which states are rich and which are poor. The most recent report shows that California is by far the poorest state, with 20.4 percent of its residents below poverty level. The poverty rate in often maligned Mississippi is 16.9. The national average is 14.7

Jack Wagner, Los Angeles: Homelessness is a symptom of overpopulation. The US population has increased by 36% since we passed the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 which was supposed to end illegal immigration.

SC, Venice: The Palisades raised $750k to send all their homeless to Venice. The Palisades are the ultimate NIMBY’s: no facilities in their community to help the homeless, just raise loads of cash to ship them next door.

Back when U.S. population was around 200 million it was fashionable to at least feign sympathy for the homeless. Now these virtuous California-dwelling, Hillary-voting, NYT-subscribing folks aren’t even bothering to make that effort.

Readers: Do you agree that NYT subscribers are going to be the most sympathetic large audience that could be found for any proposal to help the homeless? If so, why is there now so little sympathy?

12 Comments

  1. spl

    July 11, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

    1

    One solution to all this undocumented housing development: need to build a large number of high density high rise apartments in all these areas (Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay) without all the permits, approvals, zoning etc. Lack of these documents should not make such construction illegal in sanctuary areas, but merely undocumented.

  2. Tony Doe

    July 11, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

    2

    Undocumented construction. NO HOME IS ILLEGAL

  3. toucan sam

    July 11, 2018 @ 1:10 pm

    3

    I feel like most people who comment in the “comment” sections are trolls. I love to comment and I am a troll! Takes one to know one! The vast majority of Los Angelenos are too stupid to realize that we could completely eliminate the “housing crisis” if we just increased the amount of housing by 10%! It’s no coincidence that approximately 10% of Los Angelenos are illegally. Our presidential candidate mayor is going to use his liberal unicorn dust and fix the problem with a new stricter rent control initiative! @ PhilG seeing as you are from the only place in the united states that outlawed rent control did you notice a difference in the housing stock pre and post rent control?

  4. toucan sam

    July 11, 2018 @ 1:11 pm

    4

    @spl brilliant! I might just steal that from you!

  5. Steven

    July 11, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

    5

    Los Angeles is a great place to be homeless. These women traveled all the way from northern Europe to beg on the streets of L.A.
    https://www.dr.dk/tv/se/hjemloes-pa-instagram/hjemloes-pa-instagram-2/hjemloes-pa-instagram-1-2
    (You can watch it from abroad using your Chrome browser and https://tv4ever.net )
    According to local news sources they’re now taking another step toward the american dream. They’re suing the L.A. hospital that assisted with the delivery of the young woman’s child for malpractice. They may get a million dollars or two.

    It’s all anecdotal and tragic. But L.A. is a magnet.

  6. Tom

    July 11, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

    6

    Here is the intro, spontaneously translated.

    Welcome to a very different Instagram profile!

    22-year old Nadia Shila is 5 months pregnant and lives in the street in Los Angeles with her mother Heidi and her HIV-positive fiancé Jeremy – and every day her 20,000 Instagram followers can experience her chaotic life up close.

    Now Nadia, Heidi and Jeremy live the rough life in the slums of Los Angeles and beg to make it through the day. They get help from the experienced homeless man Guerro, but every day is a struggle to get money enough to survive. Nadia Shila also notices the dark side of making her life available on Instagram. Many of her followers are strongly critical regarding her life choices. Because how can you defend being the mother of a newborn while living in a tent near the freeway, surrounded by junkies, extreme poverty, violence and death?

    Nadia took her 4-year old son and her mother to America to get away from a conflict with her son’s father and a 250,000 Dkr fraud case. But the money ran out, they were thrown into the street and Nadia’s son was spotted and sent home to his father.

  7. Ivan

    July 11, 2018 @ 3:21 pm

    7

    According to https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5461/04928ee64c8edc267b6c0732d87f530e6e22.pdf, the homelessness rate tripled between 1980 and 1990 from 5 per 10,000 to 15 across 182 cities under study, and stayed more or less flat since then (about 17 today). I could not find any data before 1980, but the claim is that, at the time, researches predicted “its[homelessness] virtual disappearance in the 1970s” ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2221566 ).

    Distribution by state shows that today the DC is leading with 122 homeless people per 10,000, followed by Hawaii and New York at 55 and 43 respectively. Interestingly, Mississippi stands at almost the 1980s level of 5 (5.8): https://www.statista.com/statistics/727847/homelessness-rate-in-the-us-by-state/

  8. Jack

    July 11, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

    8

    Here in NYC we don’t have particularly good weather so we deal with our “homeless” problem by housing vagrants in hotels, not fleabag hotels but nice hotels like the Holiday Inn. So in lower Manhattan there are two Holiday Inns that according to the NY Post double as homeless shelters where the City pays a couple of hundred dollars a night (don’t know if that is single or double occupancy). During the day these people are hard at work panhandling if they have the mental capacity to do so otherwise sprawled across the sidewalk, in winter preferably over a heating vent. In the evening i suppose they return to their hotel rooms, turn on the television and enjoy a beverage of their choice. Don’t know if the minibar is stocked and on the “honor system,” but if it isn’t that sure sounds like discrimination to me. Our Mayor, if we were remotely competent, could probably figure out something better than expensive hotels on the taxpayer’s dime but unfortunately he is off in El Paso inspecting the conditions of the those detained. According to the US Govt. he crossed the border while there but he calls those charges “absolutely ridiculous.”

  9. Vince

    July 11, 2018 @ 7:58 pm

    9

    Back when U.S. population was around 200 million it was fashionable to at least feign sympathy for the homeless. Now these virtuous California-dwelling, Hillary-voting, NYT-subscribing folks aren’t even bothering to make that effort.

    A quick check using Google indicates that the population was around 200 million in 1968. From what I’ve read, there wasn’t much discussion of homelessness until the Reagan presidency over a decade later. If the an NY Times web site has existed either in ’68 or the 80s, it’s quite likely that the sentiments expressed in comments would be similar.

    Do you agree that NYT subscribers are going to be the most sympathetic large audience that could be found for any proposal to help the homeless?

    Any thoughts about this would have to be wild speculation. Opinion polls of Times subscribers have never been conducted. Also, it’s probably possible for non-subscribers to leave comments. It’s also likely that the commenters who are subscribers are not representative of all subscribers.

    Don’t know if the minibar is stocked and on the “honor system,” but if it isn’t that sure sounds like discrimination to me.

    This wouldn’t correspond to any kind of discrimination. Your remark sounds like an expression of incoherent hostility to the unfortunate.

    Interestingly, if you take a look at the article, a number of comments mention mental illness and substance issue and the challenges of addressing the population suffering from such problems. It’s interesting that you chose to ignore such comments. One of the most causes of the whole problem is somehow uninteresting.

  10. Francisco

    July 12, 2018 @ 7:54 am

    10

    I always had a similar question regarding homeless people in Boston, in particular during the winter, which is brutal and potentially deadly. Why would someone not just walk to Florida? It’s not that they’re in a hurry.

    The answer I got was that the support structures (lodging, eating, mental health) were readily available in Massachusetts, as opposed to places like Florida.

  11. philg

    July 12, 2018 @ 9:00 am

    11

    Toucan: “seeing as you are from the only place in the united states that outlawed rent control did you notice a difference in the housing stock pre and post rent control?”

    The biggest changes in Cambridge from the end of rent control (imposed on the city by voters state-wide in 1995) were (1) an increase in the supply of housing, and (2) an increase in the quality of maintenance.

    The increase in supply was mostly due to the fact that a lot of tenants in rent controlled units lived in other cities, e.g., New York. If they were paying $50/month in Cambridge that was cheaper than one or two nights of hotel. So they would keep their 600-square-foot place at $50/month and come up for the weekend rather than rent a 200-square-foot hotel room.

    I don’t think that the end of rent control had much impact on low-income families because most of them were living in city-owned housing and paying next to nothing both before and after. Also, with the end of rent control, apartment building construction became a viable business and the city would harvest 10 percent of all new units for its housing ministry to distribute for free (thus today we have people paying $600/year for units that have a market value of more than $60,000 per year).

    The other effect was a generalized gold-plating of the crummy old buildings in Cambridge. Previously it was only the publicly-owned apartments that would get the new windows, the old paint carefully scraped off, etc. After rent control was ended there was a huge rehabbing of previously shabby housing stock. So it isn’t fair to look at condo values and rents from before and after 1995. A lot of stuff before 1995 was slum-grade.

    http://www.nber.org/digest/oct12/w18125.html looks at the effect on real estate values. It seems that a lot of a units that were NOT rent-controlled went up in value because of the change in the law.

  12. David K

    July 15, 2018 @ 9:04 am

    12

    Homelessness is a simple thing to explain. Most homeless people are capably employable in some fashion. Yet, when the “quality of life” that someone can obtain from living on the street is high enough that they prefer it to a job and a place to live, that’s what some tiny fraction of the populace will chose. I guess they make enough by handouts to make it worth their while.

    I mean, once you get a large enough sample size, you can find more and more people at the ends of the spectrum who drift further and further away from the average. Amirite? These folks are choosing “homelessness” as a lifestyle, even though other options are available to them.

    I heard one radio personality, a couple years back, talking about how someone was always on a particular interstate ramp in Indianapolis. Someone looked into it, and figured out that there were a group of people, all living in the same place, who panhandled that intersection in shifts. They were making a very comfortable living doing this.

    In my city, there are help wanted signs EVERYWHERE. Some are advertising $11- or $12/hr to start, for FAST FOOD. Yet there were 2 panhandlers around the Wal-Mart in the “nice part” of town. I get it. My wife is a mental health counselor. Just getting “a job” is not an instant fix. But in a healthy-sized town with essentially ZERO unemployment, it proves that there has to be more to homelessness than just not being able to find work.

    (Meanwhile, the one guy I see walking all over town who is obviously homeless — wearing his hooded jacket in 90-degree heat — I never see panhandling.)

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