New York City has long had a homeless prevention program, enabling people who are about to be homeless to reach out and receive assistance, perhaps legal advice, cash assistance or housing referrals. It is not perfect, but it exists. The program has even shown that helping people before they become homeless is more effective and costs less. Several cities and states have homelessness prevention programs too. According to Google so does Los Angeles, but that’s not quite so. In one of the largest homeless population in the US, homeless prevention is scant, and an op-ed by Adam Murray, executive director of Inner City Law Center, calls for shifting our focus from helping the homeless to preventing homelessness. Preventing homelessness is Continue reading “Homeless Prevention”
I appreciate how difficult it is to solve the problem of homelessness. I understand that streets needs to be clean, and that businesses have a right to have unencumbered sidewalks so that customers can freely come and go, but I also understand that the homeless are people, many with mental health issues, illnesses, often people who would rather be somewhere else than on the street when it’s cold, or raining, or just to have a spot somewhere they can call home. Los Angeles County has the largest homeless population nationally, 44,000, about half of whom are in Continue reading “60 Gallons Per Homeless”
A Berkeley School of Law study found that since 1990, 58 California cities have enacted numerous laws that discriminate against the homeless. The average city studied had 9 such laws. San Francisco and Los Angeles each led with 23 restrictions. Homeless people are arrested far more than the average, for vagrancy, for “drunkenness”. And if they are not arrested, the homeless are cited or harassed for sleeping in public, sometimes for sitting or lying down. In essence the study concludes that the laws are used to punish people’s status, not their behavior. Researchers found that often the homeless are harassed by police or security guards without reference to any law at all. Also noted is that the trend of laws against the homeless does not seem to abate. In 2013 in California, advocates tried to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. While it passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee, it died in the Appropriation Committee. This year the same advocates are back with a “right to rest” bill meant to extend basic human and civil rights protection for the homeless. Oregon and Colorado are also introducing similar bills.
The homeless are a neglected and vulnerable group deserving equal treatment too often denied them. As researchers put it in an L.A. Times op-ed, “One day we will look back at these anti-homeless laws, as we do now at other antiquated vagrancy laws, and wonder how we could have been so inhumane.”