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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Brings More of the Same for the Homeless

What do Mayor Villaraigosa, Dennis Zine, Janice Hahn, Eric Garcetti and Jennifer Love Hewitt have in common? They showed up to get their pictures taken serving the homeless on Christmas. As the old, dead Republican Mayor has said before, one day photo op projects do little to address social problems. The key is joining and lifting up community based organizations and doing development projects all year round.

Mayor Villaraigosa took the occasion of the Christmas Skid Row photo op to announce the receipt of $72 million in Federal funds to address homelessness. Despite the major cash infusion, it will serve the purpose of providing just 200 additional units of housing for the homeless. That comes to about $36o,000 a unit. That won't even make a dent in the tens of thousands of homeless in Los Angeles.

These programs are very well intentioned and most of those who come out to get their picture taken are good people. The problem is the programs are so wasteful and inefficient they do little to address the real need.

You could take the same amount of money - as Joe Mailander has suggested - and build nearly 10,000 yurts while reserving a portion of the fund as a permanent endowment to fund - without any further tax outlays - ongoing maintenance, security and services for the residents.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Building real housing actually costs money, and a lot of the cost is attributable to the cost of land. Apparently this pisses not only Mayor Sam harpies, but also NIMBYs and Anti-Homeless rant-and-ravers off

All that money would buy a lot of cardboard refrigerator shipping cartons. Is that what everyone would prefer?

Maybe we should just rent some trucks, round up the homeless and take them out to the Mojave and leave them there without food, water or blankets. That would "solve the problem" for much less than $72M.

Perhaps we can have a new year's resolution to not just lash out at officials because we think they're doing stupid things unless we have something better to suggest. (And, no, the two preceding paragraphs do NOT constitute something better.)

December 26, 2007 6:33 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Just wait til all the foreclosures start hitting the low income Latino communities. Where will all those families go to get affordable housing? People aren't as dumb as the politicans think. We all know they just go for photo ops at the expense of the unfortunate homeless. Where are they the rest of the year?

December 26, 2007 6:40 AM  

Anonymous zuma dogg said:

As someone who believes we have not seen the bottom of the sub prime bubble-burst/foreclosures problem, MAN does this raise a serious concern.

"Just wait til all the foreclosures start hitting the low income Latino communities. Where will all those families go to get affordable housing?"

Where WILL all these families go? Further and further out, I guess. (That ain't gonna be good for the commute, y'all!)

And it ain't gonna be good for the community if everything is boarded up.

December 26, 2007 7:24 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Building housing is not the fix to the problem. The reason for homelessness is not a lack of homes but 90% of the homeless are mentally ill or drug addicted (or both) and can't handle life even if they had a house. Giving them a house or a yurt or a cardboard box is not the answer.

December 26, 2007 8:09 AM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

Well . All I have to say is these folks did it. even with all of the mayor sam wrecking crew trying to put road blocks in their way.

I do agree . this victory might be short lived due to the massive budget deficits coming this year amid the sub-prime lending problem.

But I think the Mayor and his cohorts - who were not there for the photo ops, because no other photogs were taking their photos- had the opportunity to see their work with the County and the Federal government finally pay off and see to it that we got the money we were supposed to get and then some.

I congratulate them on this. This is the tax payer money coming from the Los Angeles and southern California tax payers that never comes back . Well, this year we got it.

I will defend Dennis Zine only because he is always there every year and stays through the whole thing and isn't there just for the photo ops.

I think that this Mayor has done great.

Oh and that 50 most vulnerable thing just might work.

People keep saying the same things over and over again . Let's clean them from drugs and alcohol before they come inside. It hasn't worked , let's try something else. And finally these pols have gotten their heads out of their behinds and are now supporting on site supportive housing, which was always claimed to be present here , but never was.

Let's get behind these initiatives.

December 26, 2007 10:22 AM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

Don with the utmost of respect for you because I believe you are honest, sincere and truly do care for people the problem with these government programs is that they have spent BILLIONS for decades and the problem is worse than ever.

It is immoral for the ACLU et al to argue that if these people want to live on the street they can. No one can live on the street. If they don't want to or can not pursue a program where they can bootstrap themselves via temporary housing, training, medical/mental care, etc. then they need to be put in an insitution. At least a place where they can have a bed indoor, meals, medical care, some type of therapy, etc. but they can not leave until they are ready.

And that should be run by charitable groups and not the government. The welfare state as created by FDR and LBJ has been an abject failure and worse has damaged many people.

December 26, 2007 10:30 AM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

Mayor Sam . I can not argue with your assessment.

What was happening is that these housing providers were just a revolving door because they purported to provide the services, but in reality never had the services in place like Mental health , medical etc.

Because there was no accountability and everyone let them run their affairs without any attention from the surrounding communities because these issues didn't affect those communities these providers put money where they wanted to. Mostly into their own pockets.

What we are seeing is a correction in the way things were done- absolutely ,things are now going to be done to make sure that what was promised as far as housing with supportive services actually happens and not just a dog and pony show for the world to see.

I feel for the tax payers of this city and county who were told from these housing providers what they were providing and in actuality were not providing it. NOw that they have to have their feet held to the fire they are being forced to provide the services.

Skid row HOusing trust got the contract for one of these programs because they were aware that the federal governement was not going to help unless it was for permannent supportive housing and actually providing the services. They even admitted in a Neighborhood Council meeting that they were doing it wrong by not providing on site services and asked the neighborhood council to support them in their efforts to get county money for the services.

The Federal Government under the direction of HUD has made housing first a priority.

But those of us who have been following this know it is because of the huge real estate development in downtown which is causing people to ask questions of these providers.

Reality is that for the past 3 decades the tax payers of this city were bamboozled because they lived in the suburbs ,and downtown and homelessness was not on their minds out there. Now , thanks to this redevelopment even MAyor SAm is questioning and attacking.

We should make sure that On site services are provided. This is where we will solve the problem.

This City Council and Mayor have pushed for these efforts. I don't care if it is because they are doing it for reasons other than altruism.

We need to realize that the way the money was spent in the past was the problem .

We just need to realize that when they told you that they were providing housing with supportive services : they lied. SO all we saw was failure. NOW that they are going to do it right , do we sabotage it? I think not.

December 26, 2007 11:21 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Someone must solve the problem and I only wish I had the answer.

Reagan cutting funding for or closing mental hospitals started the downward spiral into the most severe homelessness problem this city has ever seen.

Drug and alcohol addiction is the number one reason for anyone to be homeless. Do they have a right to be drug addicted and therefore homeless? I suppose they do. Do we have the obligation and responsibility to offer those who need help whatever means they need to help them conquer their addictions? I say yes, if they want it. I don't think we have any good programs.

I can't think of any charitable organizations who provide such services really. There are pretend organizations who want to look like they're helping. There are scam organizations who want money to pretend like they're helping. There will always be politicians pretending to care, but even if they do, none are motivated enough to spend time and money figuring out how to do it.

We do know that the current charitable organizations who help will only do it on their terms. You can have a bed if you're clean. You can stay here if you don't do drugs or drink. They don't really offer help. They just demand that the addicted people come to them on their terms. Kind of a catch-22, wouldn't you say?

Drug and alcohol addicts CAN'T stay clean without serious help. I wish I knew what the answer was. I have no answers myself.

"Affordable Housing" isn't the answer for this problem that Reagan started and is now spiraling out of control.

The politician who solves this will be revered forever. Unfortunately, none of them think long-term because they don't give a flying fuck. They only care about their next elected position and their need to start raising money for that.

December 26, 2007 4:10 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The federal, state and local governments are not in the business of directly building housing any more. The kind of money this is about gets passed through to nonprofit and for-profit developers as subsidy grants and loans.

You guys debated whether or not THAT was a good idea months ago. So if subsidizing private sector builders is no better than the public sector doing it, and re-opening facilities for the mentally ill still won't take care of everyone who needs a roof over their heads, what's the answer?

The silence is deafening.

December 27, 2007 6:15 PM  

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