General Question

crazyguy's avatar

Do you see a sustainable solution to the homeless problem?

Asked by crazyguy (1112points) 1 week ago

Two cities that I am personally familiar with (Los Angeles and San Francisco) have seen the homeless problem grow to the point of a nuisance. Apparently, coddling the homeless, trying to be more understanding just encourages more people to join in receiving the largesse.

That is not surprising at all. Yet all the solutions proposed by our government involve increasing the largesse.

Do you see a more sustainable solution?

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78 Answers

kritiper's avatar

No. And, with a more computerized, robotic work force in the making, it will only get worse.

dabbler's avatar

Sorry, but this seems nuts to me, “Apparently, coddling the homeless, trying to be more understanding just encourages more people to join in receiving the largesse.”
This implies people are chosing to be homeless, as a lifestyle, to cash in on the kindnesses extended to them. That probably happens never.

The systemic causes of homelessness are wealth inequalities and income inequalities piled on top of ordinary disabilities, mental and physical. We had far fewer homeless people when government funding provided for better mental health and housing for people who can’t manage on their own.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
hmmmmmm's avatar

We have plenty of wealth and plenty of empty housing units in this country. This isn’t a logistical problem – it’s a political and moral one.

Demosthenes's avatar

@kritiper Yep. Maybe by that time we are going to need a universal basic income.

Here in the Bay Area, the homeless problem became exponentially worse as the cost of living rose dramatically as a result of the tech boom. Here there are homeless people who have jobs and live in RVs. They work service jobs that do not pay enough for a person to live off of. When even a room in some shitty house with four roommates is $1200 a month, you know things have gotten out of hand. The pandemic is actually causing rents to fall for the first time in a long time, which is silver lining of this horrible year.

I’m always interested to hear proposed solutions to homelessness because I so seldom hear them (and I’m afraid I too don’t have many ideas either). I often hear that the problem is caused by “Democratic policies”, but I never hear any “Republican policies” that would solve the problem. All anyone can ever do is complain.

And then when low-income housing is suggested as a solution, the NIMBYs prevent it from being built. The only thing the towns around here have done is open lots where people can park their RVs and set up tents, which is obviously not a solution. So I don’t know. If anyone has any better ideas, I’d like to hear them.

Darth_Algar's avatar

We have more housing units than people in this country. Huge numbers of homeless do, in fact, work full-time jobs, but cannot afford housing. Not hard to figure out where the problem is there.

jca2's avatar

I don’t think there’s one easy, umbrella solution. The issue of homelessness is multi-faceted, with a variety of circumstances surrounding the homeless person (lifestyle, employment, addiction, mental health, obsolete skills/changing technology, disability), as well as the person’s area having its own set of circumstances (i.e. high housing prices like NYC, SF/Bay Area, Los Angeles) and shortage of affordable housing in many places.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I remember at the arrival in San Francisco of the homeless army smack dab in the middle of the Reagan administration wondering if the problem were politically generated. I thought it at the time rather probable that we would never tolerate such a situation in this country in a period when the majority of the country had the Great Depression etched in its memory. And I am still convinced that this remains the case. 50 years after the onset of the great depression Reagan arrived and the homeless came with him. Coincidence? What had changed in the 80s if homelessness could define an era of booming economic times in the richest country in the world? I only know that our collective memory is exceptionally short and those few among us left who lived through the Great Depression are now in their mid 90s. The bottom line is that as soon as the numbers of us dropped sufficiently who lived through THAT catastrophe, it became politically tolerable to short change public housing, and the results are just what you would expect.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Also…

@crazyguy: “Apparently, coddling the homeless, trying to be more understanding just encourages more people to join in receiving the largesse.”

This is pretty crazy extremism right here. The only “coddling” that goes on is the way we treat the wealthy. You support an economic system that creates people who are without homes, and then complain that their lack of housing is a “nuisance”. The system isn’t broken. It’s working as intended. And your dehumanizing of people without the means to afford a home (due to an economic system you support) is sickening.

The fact that there is a single involuntarily-homeless person in the United States is an absolute embarrassment. It’s an an indictment of the very system that you defend and has enriched you and your family.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It is interesting that @crazyguy is willing to address so blatant an example of a failure attributable to capitalism. Again, this is another result we should expect in a society increasingly recognized as moving toward rich and mostly poor with the poor accumulating from the hollowed out former middle. This place should be the hope for the world, and I have been blessed beyond belief with the sort of luck I most assuredly don’t deserve simply through the good fortune of being born here in the right time and under lucky circumstances. But it breaks my heart to contemplate the future of a life of comfort in a land of beggars.

crazyguy's avatar

I requested sustainable solutions, if any exist. Handouts, subsidies, free housing are not sustainable. Nor is a one-time seizure of others’ property to house the homeless. Besides they will not stay there anyway. They would consider it extravagance, and turn around and rent the place.

I know how this works from first-hand experience. I was in New Delhi one winter many years ago. For those of you who do not realize it, New Delhi can and does get extremely cold on some winter nights. My mother, who was alive at the time, worked through a charity to provide blankets to the homeless who used to huddle on sidewalks with just torn sheets to shelter them from the cold. In a couple of nights, all the blankets were gone. They had been sold because the homeless felt they were not essential.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@crazyguy: “Besides they will not stay there anyway. They would consider it extravagance, and turn around and rent the place.”

Good!

You can’t claim “unsustainable!” while supporting the least sustainable economic system. You are a capitalist. Christ, you should be apologizing.

stanleybmanly's avatar

So is it inevitable that the problem grows worse? What was different BEFORE the homeless epidemic? And why did things change?

crazyguy's avatar

@kritiper Not all the homeless are unemployed, but most of them are.

@dabbler Homelessness is a choice, that most of us would never make. If you have a fixed number of dollars, you choose what you spend those limited dollars on. A home, or a roof over your head, is just one of the options.

@Demosthenes For once, I agree with you. As costs rise, the attractiveness of becoming homeless increases. After all, think of the alternative uses for $1,200 per month. If you give them housing, the number of homes;ess will grow until you run out of freebies. That is the same driving force that is the essence of capitalism – greed.

@jca2 I would like to hear a typical,sustainable solution.

@stanleybmanly Like you, I consider myself extremely fortunate. However, I did have to struggle financially for a long, long time. It is interesting you correlate the increasing problem to a lack of public housing. You don’t seem to realize that the same greed that drives capitalism causes all public housing units to be used up, as more and more borderline people join the homeless ranks. As to what was different before the home;ess epidemic, I am not certain. Perhaps it is easier availability of information.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Here’s the thing that I get from your view of this. It’s the same perspective I hear from the right on poverty in general. And that’s the one about the poor being somehow poor by choice. It’s an attitude I find difficult to accept or reconcile with the visible evidence. Folks living in their cars or under bridges to save money?

Demosthenes's avatar

@stanleybmanly That may explain some of the people living in RVs here. They could move to a more affordable area, but any time someone suggests that the response is incredibly hostile. Of course they shouldn’t have to leave, but many have left the Bay Area for that reason. So the fact that some are employed and living in an RV leads me to believe they are choosing that over an alternative that may involve some difficulty.

But the guy who smells like he hasn’t bathed in months sleeping in a bus station? No, I don’t think he chose that. I think the people who are choosing to live a homeless life rather than look for a job in a more affordable area are a very small percentage of the homeless population.

Zaku's avatar

It sounds like you being able to see a sustainable answer would probably need to start with you questioning the thinking that’s having you claim as certainly true such things as:

* “Apparently, coddling the homeless, trying to be more understanding just encourages more people to join in receiving the largesse.”
* “Handouts, subsidies, free housing are not sustainable. Nor is a one-time seizure of others’ property to house the homeless.”
* “Besides they will not stay there anyway. They would consider it extravagance, and turn around and rent the place.”

For example, your last point seems like it should be obviously false to me, since if free housing is available, no one would pay to rent it from an individual, because they could just get it for free.

As for the rest, it seems to me this country could afford to provide housing to the homeless, sustainably. The main obstacle seems to me to be political, and looks to me a lot like the very viewpoint you’re coming from. Let go of that, and the solutions become visible.

What else might need to change, though, is some of the way our economy works. Free market housing prices tend to go for the highest prices anyone can afford, which means that when there are enough people making much more than others, housing prices start to get unaffordable for a large part of the working population. And that is unsustainable, as are several other eventual economic catastrophies. Homelessness is a symptom, not a problem all by itself.

I mean, just this morning, Bernie Sanders sent me an email which in part said:

“At a time of massive unemployment, starvation wages and enormous unmet needs, we need a federal jobs program that guarantees employment for all who are able to work. We can create millions of good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel and building the 10 million units of affordable housing that our country needs.”

Sounds like a good plan to me!

YARNLADY's avatar

^^^I agree, guaranteed employment for everyone who wants a job, to be paid for by a special tax on everyone with income over $1 million.

kritiper's avatar

@crazyguy Give it time and it will get worse. Rents here have reached the point where normal working people can’t afford them.

Darth_Algar's avatar

People choosing to live in an RV, especially for older folks, may well be them simply choosing a different lifestyle rather than a sign that they’re homeless. I know my dad, now that he’s retired, drawing a pension and a widower has talked about getting rid of most of his shit, putting what little he wants to keep in storage, and getting an RV. Just him and the dog, trekking around seeing the country and parking at various campgrounds and parks that will allow RVs.

Demosthenes's avatar

Well sure, but I’m referring to the junky RVs that have been parked along El Camino Real in front of Stanford University or the ones leaking sewage on Crisanto Avenue in Mountain View; these aren’t retired folks exploring the country in their nice RV, these are people living here. Their RVs are often full of police warning stickers, because many cities have a law that gives the illegally parked RV three days to move before being towed, so they move it every three days between a few different locations, often on the same block.

This is obviously a very specific local issue. But what’s most striking to me is that this largely wasn’t a thing until the last several years. And it’s obvious what’s changed: the cost of living has risen exponentially.

DarthDankSaber's avatar

I’m assuming you’re talking about the United States…

As far as the public health component goes, it’s going to require samples in stratified clusters and then somehow, you have to get people to follow a certain lifestyle that improves their health and functioning.

Homelessness is a public health issue, and it is a problem of economic scale. You see, our population is so vast and our real core economy is so concentrated among a small population that it becomes extremely difficult to do anything on a collective scale that would solve the problem, because more an more opinions on what to do become dominant as more and more people get involved.

We kind of need to gradually and respectfully lower the population, then use enough knowledgeable people to make the right reforms. It would require reforming much of our laws in the US, as well.

It’s an extremely complicated problem because of the amount of people, parameters, political landscapes, and externalities involved.

crazyguy's avatar

@Zaku I should have been clearer. I did not mean the homeless person becomes a tenant of the free housing. S/he becomes the landlord!

If you doubt that providing free housing to the homeless increases the number of homeless: just ask yourself a rather basic question about human nature: If you are barely making ends meet in rental housing, but your fellow employee is getting free housing, what will you do? Keep in mind the hierarchy of needs.

You say: “As for the rest, it seems to me this country could afford to provide housing to the homeless, sustainably. The main obstacle seems to me to be political, and looks to me a lot like the very viewpoint you’re coming from. Let go of that, and the solutions become visible.”

Sure. I agree. However, keep in mind that few social issues are static. There has been a recognition of this point in taxation policy. For instance, see

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-are-dynamic-scoring-and-dynamic-analysis

Similar factors apply to homelessness.

The worst homeless problem happens in California. There are two reasons for this:

1. Hospitable weather.
2. Coddling by the Democratic government. For instance, see

https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4102

crazyguy's avatar

@YARNLADY We have an example of that already. The CARES package created a situation where an unemployed person made more than a wage earner. Ever stop to think what happened? Here is one example of what happened:
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/she-got-a-paycheck-protection-loan-her-employees-hate-her-for-it.html

The same greed that drives an entrepreneur drives the lowest wage earners. Until you people realize that greed is basic, you cannot even try to come up with sustainable solutions.

I am not saying for one minute that anybody chooses to be poor. However, I am saying that the poor face the same choices we all make everyday.

crazyguy's avatar

@kritiper Even with so-called living wages the problem keeps getting worse. Perhaps it is time to raise the living wage!!!!

crazyguy's avatar

@Demosthenes Yes, the cost of living went up – like it does most years. However, rents have outpaced overall inflation many times through history_. See

https://www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov/rent-payments

It is so easy to find excuses for behavior driven by basic greed.

The question is: Why does anybody pay exorbitant rent when there are much cheaper options encouraged by the government? A second question is: Why are rents exorbitant?

gondwanalon's avatar

Give them tough love. Stop giving them free food. Offer food and money for work. If they have drug, mental or physical issues then give them professional help.

crazyguy's avatar

@gondwanalon Whatever you do, you want to prevent borderline people who have decided to rent a place from joining the ranks of the homeless. Even the tough love you propose may be more than the borderline people receive, and may be enough to cause them to seek it too.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Of course if you’re homeless, you’re going to head for a place with decent weather, and the chances of being fed are good. You can call feeding a hungry man coddling if you choose, but the armies of homeless folks crowding out sidewalks or living in their cars, trucks or RVs are composed of more working people than you might prefer to believe. If you want a revelation, you should come here and peep in on the missions serving lunch in the city. You would be amazed at how many folks appear to be average members of the city’s workforce.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@crazyguy

Who do I get the feeling that there isn’t any possible solution anyone could come up with that you’d recognize as “sustainable”?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Also, as far as California’s problem with homeless coming from elsewhere – it should be noted that many municipalities simply, and in typical take no responsibility fashion, throw their homeless on a bus and pass the buck off on California, rather than dealing with their own homeless problem.

si3tech's avatar

IMHO drugs/addiction play a large role in the homeless problem. I do not see a sustainable solution.

Demosthenes's avatar

@crazyguy Because this place is in demand, that’s why. The tech boom brought an influx of tech workers, including many from out of the country (you should see how much Bay Area land is being bought up by the Chinese). Housing became scarce and prices rose accordingly, especially considering the generally high income of tech workers. Those in lower income brackets could no longer afford the rent, so they are priced out of the area or they became homeless. The pandemic has thrown a wrench in it all because now tech companies are letting people work from home and people are leaving, no longer feeling that they must be in the Bay Area to work for Google/Facebook/Apple, etc. Rents are falling for the first time in years.

Zaku's avatar

@crazyguy “I should have been clearer. I did not mean the homeless person becomes a tenant of the free housing. S/he becomes the landlord!”
– What? Why would you write that?

“If you doubt that providing free housing to the homeless increases the number of homeless: just ask yourself a rather basic question about human nature: If you are barely making ends meet in rental housing, but your fellow employee is getting free housing, what will you do? Keep in mind the hierarchy of needs.”
– It seems to me like I DID spend most of my adult life not even making ends meet in rental housing. But I got to choose where and how I lived, and I chose to live in nice places and have good food and books and travel and so on, and be in relationships with women who had various requirements, and would not have been temped by free housing for the poor.

- I mean, unless the welfare housing were really attractive (which in the USA, we are several levels of cultural development away from being able to provide).

- I suppose at some point our economy may get there, where non-welfare housing is completely unaffordable to most people.

- I guess you’re asking though if I were really so poor that I couldn’t afford any travel or books or other non-essentials, nor had relationships nor could afford any other “luxuries”... well then yes, I suppose I would be tempted by even unappealing free housing then. Ok, so? Would that “increase the number of homeless”? Seems to me it would increase the number of severely struggling people who were using welfare housing to have a more livable life. Which I would think would be a good thing compared to the alternative. That is, I see people living in welfare housing and having their lives made more livable as a good thing, whether they would otherwise be homeless or just suffering in a barely affordable rental.

I wonder, though. If a country did provide a public housing option that was both free (or very affordable) and also quite acceptable and not socially stigmatized, would you see that as a bad thing? Only for the reason that you would see it as some sort of robbery, or for some other reason?

Dutchess_III's avatar

In the 90s I could have qualified for a housing subsidy. But I didn’t want to live in the places they provided. Too many junky druggies. So I paid my own rent of $350 for the ground floor of a giant old house that was built at the turn of the century. It had more square footage than the house I had owned back in Wichita. It was an amazing price even back then. You walked into a living room. In front of you was a fireplace. Beside the fireplace were French doors that opened up into a giant dining room. To the right were another set of French doors that opened up into a parlor. It was an incredible find. The land lord was a slum lord though, and it was pretty filthy. I painted all the walls and ripped out the kitchen carpet (whose stupid idea was that, anyway!) and put down linoleum.
My son’s room had been painted by a prior tenant. Pretty sure it was one of our resident vampires. They painted it this ghastly purple color and they painted EVERYTHING. They painted the outlets and the door knobs. It was a horrible mess! It just looked like a room where they held sacrifices.

crazyguy's avatar

@si3tech I agree 100%. Drugs and addiction do play a big part, because they soak up some of the resources available to the person. However, there are many, many drug addicts who are not homeless. So personal responsibility probably plays a bigger part.

crazyguy's avatar

@Demosthenes I agree California is in demand partly because of the weather and partly because of the largesse of the Democratic government. I also agree that the pandemic is helping in the sense that rents in LA and SF are falling. However, ultimately it comes down to personal choice (I know that some posters do not like the term choice, but I do not know what else to call it). Just because you could make room in your budget for rent, not everybody will.

crazyguy's avatar

@Zaku What I mean is this. A person has been homeless for years. With free food and other goodies provided by the government, you are happy because your entire income is disposable, and you are living well. Now the government gives you free housing. But you lose access to some of the freebies you had got accustomed to. So now you have less disposable income. What do you do?

Well, one solution is to invite a roommate, or rent out the entire home. Why not?

Your guess is absolutely correct. I am asking about somebody ‘so poor that I (s/he) couldn’t afford any travel or books or other non-essentials, nor had relationships nor could afford any other “luxuries”’. Such a person will not shell out the couple thousand per month for a reasonable place. Not when they can live for free the way they have become quite accustomed to.
You go on to say: “I wonder, though. If a country did provide a public housing option that was both free (or very affordable) and also quite acceptable and not socially stigmatized, would you see that as a bad thing? Only for the reason that you would see it as some sort of robbery, or for some other reason?” I would see that as a bad thing but not for the reasons you stated. I would frown upon any attempt to make the life of the homeless better than somebody else who is struggling but still making the rent payment.

crazyguy's avatar

@Dutchess_III Your story just made my point. Why would anybody pay market rent if they could live in a nice place for free?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I didn’t live rent free. I paid my own rent, 100% of it. I would have qualified for subsidized housing if I had applied, but I never applied.

This looks pretty sustainable.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Where in the blue hell are you getting this notion that homeless people have it so well. Jesus jumped-up Christ…

Zaku's avatar

“What I mean is this. A person has been homeless for years. With free food and other goodies provided by the government, you are happy because your entire income is disposable, and you are living well.”
– First, it sound a little like perhaps you actually envy homeless people at some level?

- It also sounds like you think being homeless but getting “free food and other goodies provided by the government” adds up to living “well”? I don’t think that many homeless would share that assessment, and it seems a bit cruel to try to cast it that way.

- If there are some few people who do feel they are living well while homeless… that strikes me as something of an accomplishment, and if they’re happy, I think I’m happier for their success in “the pursuit of happiness” than I am for people grasping for financial progress in the job market. But I take it you’re actually upset at the idea someone would find contentment in this way?

“Now the government gives you free housing. But you lose access to some of the freebies you had got accustomed to. So now you have less disposable income. What do you do?”
– I’m having a hard time getting the full scenario you mean. What wonderful “freebies” are you talking about that I am losing? I mean, if it were me, I would probably be looking for remote software and game development work as usual, or if the situation allowed, I’d be developing my own games full-time. Having a home allows me to store my work safely, and be healthier. Sounds like a good situation of government aid turning a homeless person into an artist who can afford to concentrate on art or whatever other work they love, and/or develop a career. Sounds good to me.

“Well, one solution is to invite a roommate, or rent out the entire home. Why not?”
– For one thing, I’d assume someone being given free housing isn’t allowed to charge others rent to live there.

- For another, if they can get along in a housing unit with another roommate without problems, then great. No?

- Also, I thought the premise is that we’d like provide everyone who needs it with housing, so in that case, there is no one who would need to pay another person in welfare housing, for welfare housing they could get themselves without paying for it.

Zaku's avatar

“Your guess is absolutely correct. I am asking about somebody ‘so poor that I (s/he) couldn’t afford any travel or books or other non-essentials, nor had relationships nor could afford any other “luxuries”’. Such a person will not shell out the couple thousand per month for a reasonable place. Not when they can live for free the way they have become quite accustomed to.”
– Um, yeah, I hope not. Hopefully no one is paying $2000+ in rent unless they’re getting a really nice place and they can afford it.

- Seems like a job for rent control.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It is a miserable existence.

Zaku's avatar

“I would frown upon any attempt to make the life of the homeless better than somebody else who is struggling but still making the rent payment.”
– While that wouldn’t be a particular concern of mine, I don’t think anyone is trying to create that situation, nor would they by providing free housing to those who need it.

- In the first place, until/unless the situation improves a lot, rarely is free housing particularly desirable.

- In the second place, if/when there is enough free housing that the scuzziest rentals seem like a waste of money, is that actually a bad thing? Having shopped the bottom of a few urban rental markets before, it seems to me that that situation might be quite improved by competition from welfare housing.

- More importantly, when I think of the people who are suffering with being barely able to afford an unappealing bottom-of-the-market rental, I would love for those people to be able to live someplace decent enough and not pay rent, so they would not be miserable. I see great value in providing that level of basic human need, and removing the stress and suffering of forcing them to try to earn enough to be able to afford even that. It seems inhumane to me, not “tough love” at all. More like “tough luck!”

hmmmmmm's avatar

@Darth_Algar: “Where in the blue hell are you getting this notion that homeless people have it so well. Jesus jumped-up Christ…”

The right seems to believe that if you have a human need met (shelter, food, healthcare, education, potable water, etc), you cease to long for anything else. For decades, the right sold the idea that providing minimal food stamps to parents would cause people to choose to never work. Unfortunately, they pushed this narrative so hard, they started to spend a majority of their time arguing that the destitute had it better than those making 6 figures. This seems to be the same radical idea that the victims in this scenario are the wealthy.

@crazyguy – There are very few things that one can say with certainty. But there is one that I am 100% certain of: There is a 0.00% chance that you believe that the extreme poor and those without homes are living “well” on the “largesse of the Democratic government”. You are asserting this because it’s a common argument in confused, radical, elite circles that attempt to paint themselves as the victim. But you don’t really buy this. You are attempting to build a case for your obscene unethical political positions, and feel that we’ll let this slide as legitimate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They didn’t provide “minimal” food stamps to us. We were flooded, overwhelmed, inundated with food stamps.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@hmmmmmm

Correct. It was more of a rhetorical question anyway. I know he won’t answer or acknowledge it.

SEKA's avatar

People will fight each other over the right to adopt a dog or a cat. Why doesn’t everyone simply adopt a homeless person? Keep them for a year and then take in a new one12 months later

crazyguy's avatar

@Dutchess_III Your previous post (to which I replied) said the following:

“In the 90s I could have qualified for a housing subsidy. But I didn’t want to live in the places they provided. Too many junky druggies. So I paid my own rent of $350 for the ground floor of a giant old house that was built at the turn of the century.”

So you paid your own rent rather than accept the poor alternative offered up as subsidized housing. I got that. Now if the subsidized housing was “quite acceptable and not socially stigmatized” as suggested by @zaku, you might have accepted it. In fact, it would make you kind of silly to pay rent for a place when you could score an acceptable place for free. That was my point.

JLeslie's avatar

Singapore decided to supply government subsidized housing many years ago with the idea that if everyone has shelter they can be more productive. That the stress of worrying about basic needs like shelter is detrimental. About 80% of the population still lives in government housing still today. They do pay some money, I don’t remember exactly how it works. 2018 article here: https://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/what-about-singapore-lessons-best-public-housing-program-world and if you google you can find more history on it.

Where I live, the concept originally was very affordable housing with lots of amenities. It has grown into still having affordable housing and also some more expensive, even very expensive housing. We all use the same amenities. We have over 30 free for residents golf courses and over 100 swimming pools. We have over 2,000 activities and clubs (it is curbed right now because of covid) and activities are free like exercise classes, arts, crafts, games, and most clubs are free or a $10 annual fee. I say free, but it’s more like included in our monthly amenities fee, which is $150 a month. In the community that has mobile homes I think they only pay $60 a month. That is the original section, about 500 houses I think, we have over 60,000 houses in the community.

Ok, so the majority of people here don’t work, they live on social security, pensions, and savings. They could sit at home all day with their feet up, but instead most people have full calendars. Dance classes, social clubs, lectures, soft ball, golf, bocci, woodworking, volunteering, learning a language, and more. All of the clubs and activities are led by volunteers.

It’s an interesting blend of capitalism and socialism. When everyone pays in, everyone can have more available to them and it’s cheaper per person.

Want to try tennis? You can go right up to the shed and borrow a racket and balls, please return everything on the honor system.

These people who don’t have to work are still productive.

I’d argue that working when we are young is important. I think we need to have full employment for people under age 50 (for those who can and need to work) and earlier retirement benefits to free up jobs. More affordable housing. Socialized medicine so we don’t need to save money for fear of healthcare expenses.

I’m all for capitalism and some people will and should earn more than others, but the extreme wages and salaries need to be addressed.

If people feel financially safe they will be productive if the opportunities to be productive are appealing and part of the cultural expectation. Letting people share their knowledge and talent is part of the equation. People growing up in safe and beautiful neighborhoods is part of the equation.

crazyguy's avatar

@Zaku You are an expert at misconstruing everything I stated. Let me try and correct you.

First of all, my family and I have always had a roof over our heads, so if you think I envy homeless people, you are as wrong as you have ever been.

I have never been homeless so I am not certain what free goodies they get other than free food. Perhaps medical care? In any case, if you lose just the free food, your disposable income does take a hit.

My point is if free housing were improved to a point that it became “quite acceptable and not socially stigmatized” (your words, not mine), then you would create more homeless people because why would anybody pay market rent when they can score a “quite acceptable” place for free?

kritiper's avatar

@crazyguy Raise the living wage. A great idea except that, after a certain amount of time, when everyone is making those wages, and inflation kicks in and the price of everything goes up, soon everyone is right back where they started. (That’s Economics 101.)

crazyguy's avatar

@kritiper So how is the solution sustainable?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@crazyguy I don’t believe it’s so much a matter of free housing, but a question of why so many of us are apparently so dysfunctional as to be living on the streets. It’s a question to which we had better find the answer before the trend overwhelms us. When you step back and look at it, there has always been the issue of what is to be done about capitalism’s losers. With the Great Depression came the recognition that the government had to be involved with subsidized housing and every city of any size wound up with its share of housing projects and apartment blocks to house senior citizens and the disabled. It’s simply the application of what I said previously of governmental responsibility for moderating the damage inflicted through capitalism’s “success”. I suspect that the homeless problem is in large part a reflection of the laxity of our government in upholding those remedies as memory of the 30s dissipates from the public conscience.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@crazyguy You’re talking in circles and skipping over important points.

gondwanalon's avatar

@crazyguy why did you ask this question. You seem to know all the answers.

Zaku's avatar

I’d say that this image is worth at least a thousand words from this thread.

crazyguy's avatar

@Dutchess_III Ok. Let me restate what I think in clear terms.

1. The homeless number has been growing all over, but particularly in big California cities.
2. Relative cost of living increases can explain some of the increase (relative to income growth).
3. There are people with low incomes who manage to get roofs over their heads.
4. The nicer the free housing provided to the homeless, the greater the chance that some borderline people will join the ranks of the homeless.

Basic human nature.

crazyguy's avatar

@stanleybmanly Even governments do not have infinite resources. In fact, they have only the resources that we pay in taxes of one kind or another. Every dollar spent for one segment of society necessarily reduces dollars available for other sectors. Since you have expressed your dismay earlier at increasing government debt, I assume you are all for balanced budgets. At the same time you want the government to provide health care and education for everybody, and God knows what else. Why don’t you try a simple exercise:

1. Take a blank piece of paper.
2. Enter annual expenses of programs you think government should pay for. This will require some research.
3. Add up the expenses.
4. Look up the national income totals in different income categories (0–10,000, 10,000–50,000, 50,000–400,000, >400,000). Then figure out tax rates needed for each income bracket.

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie Since you brought up Singapore, please extend the model to the US and try to put some dollar figures to the expenses involved.

crazyguy's avatar

@Zaku As is typical for the have-nots, you are looking for a hand-out, not a hand up. When the handout runs out, you will be screaming for more handouts.

I am here to tell you that I am all for helping the needy in a meaningful way, which handouts assuredly are not.

crazyguy's avatar

@gondwanalon I do not have the answer. The reason I can dismiss all the suggestions made in response to my question is that I have thought of all of them and realized they are only short-term solutions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The physical conditions of the Section 8 housing isn’t what was important. It was the tenants that deterred me

crazyguy's avatar

@Dutchess_III That is the same thing which deters most self-respecting individuals from low-income housing.

SEKA's avatar

Not all homeless people are unsalvagable

stanleybmanly's avatar

One thing is certain, and must be recognized before anything positive will be achieved in reversing the accelerating blight

This is every bit a disaster. It is more subtle, creeping and less visible but surely as significant as any hurricane or opioid scourge. The problem is systemic and the pronounced magnitude of its severity a defining characteristic of perhaps the last 40 years. It’s rather obvious that it is but one in the bundle of indicators on the affordability of a reasonable existence in the richest place on earth. The idea that for some reason we have willfully devolved to a lazy people craving government coddling is suspiciously simplistic and rather convenient for dismissal by the “winners” as “not my problem” and “you get what YOU deserve”. To me the expanding homeless situation is just one more indicator on the rise of income inequality and further proof that it is now integral to the design of our existence. Once again, where is the money going, and why?

Dutchess_III's avatar

And the programs designed to help the poor have the effect of entrenching them even further into their hopeless situation. In effect, they’re punished when they make enough money to not need the services any more.

crazyguy's avatar

@stanleybmanly I agree that the exploding number of homeless is an indication of increasing income (and wealth) inequality. Note this is happening in spite of myriad programs designed to help the homeless. In California, we have:

1. CalWORKS Homeless Assistance
2. Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program (I believe this is a Federal program).
3. HUD
4. Countless private aid groups – for a list of help available in Orange County see https://www.homeaidoc.org/housing/

Most of these aid programs require the helped person(s) to be “homeless”.

If you have a roof over your head but are about to lose it, wait until you actually lose it!

I think that is the point @Dutchess_III is making – you have to be totally destitute before you get a helping hand and the helping hand goes away once you are no longer destitute.

That does not seem to be a sustainable solution.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, a UBI would give every citizen some money no matter what their income. That way you don’t have to be on your last penny to get it. Andrew Yang talked about it, but a man where I live has been leading discussions on it for a long time. He finally recorded his lectures if you have any interest. I haven’t watched them yet, but I’ve seen him in real life. I assume he addresses arguments for and against. Here’s the link https://www.pc4ubi.net/

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes it is the system itself that is failing us. The thing to recognize is that the system is functioning PERFECTLY as it is designed once it is understood that the rich MUST get richer. The truth of this as I’ve said before has been disguised through debt, both public and private, along with socialist remedies, most of which are too stingy and trail behind the calamities at which they are directed. But these remedies must increase as long more of us fall behind and fewer of us are available to carry the load. As a people we need to understand what these symptoms mean. When things such as housing and a college education grow beyond the means of the average individual without crippling debt in the midst of a supposedly skyrocketing economy, you gotta ask yourself “why”? And to my mind the start would be to see where the money is going, then ask exactly what sort of control the losers have over the THAT direction.

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie I got through the first video, will watch (more listen to) the others before I give you my comments.

Thanks.

crazyguy's avatar

@stanleybmanly I would suggest racking your brains to come up with a salable solution instead of just complaining.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@crazyguy

So what solution do you suggest?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Just complaining? The complaints MUST be listed and more importantly, the origins of those complaints must be explained differently than the reasons we are popularly fed. The solution begins with changing the narrative that government is evil, or more accurately that if government is indeed the problem, then it MUST be recognized that whoever is advantaged and benefits most under said government owns and controls it.

crazyguy's avatar

@stanleybmanly Since your solution assumes a bigger (and better?) government, how do you propose to guarantee that there will be no people advantaged under it? And how do you guarantee that these people will not own and control it?

stanleybmanly's avatar

You misunderstand. I by no stretch of the imagination claim that government will be better BECAUSE it grows. I claim it will grow and become more intrusive, BETTER OR NOT. The government (socialism) will grow because there are limits to how far the rich can go in robbing us and yet exist among us unmolested. The point has arrived where they must and NOW do rob our descendants and our future. THIS is what the deficits actually are—the money siphoned from our future in order that the rich get richer. The government gets bigger not to to prevent but precisely to INSURE that the rich get richer. The beauty of the setup is that the rich whine about government overreach, yet no one seems to notice that THEY appear to be the only ones doing well. This is also the example of how profit is privatized while the debt belongs to all of us!!!

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