The War On Homeless Americans

This is another update from your friendly neighborhood homeless advocate on the crusade to criminalize homeless Americans.

Chronicling homelessness: don't look to Ben Carson for help with the crisis -
Action on homelessness is taking place outside Washington, as New York guarantees legal counsel to evicted tenants

Since taking over as housing secretary, the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson has defended drastic cuts to the budget of his own department and proclaimed to the New York Times that public housing shouldn’t be too comfortable lest its inhabitants get used to government largesse.

"Public housing shouldn't be too comfortable". That's exactly the same argument mass incarceration fanatics use. We can't make prison "too comfortable" or all the poor people we toss in jail will be too cozy behind bars; not to mention that government largesse should be reserved for wealthy campaign contributors.

An example of homeless Americans getting too comfortable:

The life of a homeless encampment can be brief.

Consider Village of Hope, a fledgling homeless village that popped up in a remote, woodsy area of Portland in late January. It featured 10 tents on wooden platforms, a shared kitchen and “Chill Out Zone” for mental health decompression. There were even plans for a human-powered laundry trough. “I don’t look at it as primitive,” said an organizer, Lisa Lake. “We need to be innovative so people who have nothing can be self-sufficient.”

But the day after the camp appeared, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler called the self-governed encampment, on parks-owned wetlands near the Columbia river, “unacceptable”. On 2 February, police and rangers cleared the site without incident.

Officials evidently have few reservations about displacing people even in winter or amid a homelessness crisis of unprecedented scale across the west coast. Indeed, three days later, a San Jose camp dubbed “Googleville” was also swept.

One Village of Hope resident, Kerry Wheeler, asked: “Why can’t they let us have one little place?”

The simple answer to that is "because Mr. Market hates lazy poor people". If homeless Americans want "one little place" they should get a job!

Which brings us to the second article. Stop whining that the rent is too damned high! Get a job and pay rent dammit! What's your problem?

Declaration of war': liberals divided as California mulls housing push -
Proposal aimed at keeping up with population growth would limit cities’ power over housing, handing more control to state

This article describes the political clash between state activism and local

The mayor of Berkeley, California, has called it “a declaration of war”. A neighborhood group in Los Angeles said it would be akin to forcing Native Americans from their land.

So state housing legislation to create more low income housing is "akin to forcing Native Americans from their land". Really?

Amid a desperate housing crisis, legislators in the Golden State have prompted an outcry with new proposals that threaten to take the rulebook that governs American city planning and throw it out the window.

Their proposition: reducing cities’ power to decide what gets built and putting more control into state hands.

“We have a housing deficit in the millions and it grows every year,” said the state senator Scott Wiener, author of a bill at the center of the fight.

How large is the housing deficit?

To keep up with population growth, California needs to build 180,000 new homes each year. But for the last 10 years, it has constructed less than half that figure.

The rent is too damned high!

This scarcity has driven up rents and the prices of homes to the point where half of the state’s current residents can no longer afford them and homelessness has surged. In San Francisco, the state’s most expensive housing market, the median sales price of homes was $1.25m in 2016 and the median rent was $4,500.

Median rent is $4,500? Here's one specific example of the housing dilemma:

Inspiration for Wiener’s new bill stemmed in part from an unexpected corner: a squat building that once housed a Kentucky Fried Chicken in San Francisco’s desirable Mission district.

Over a decade ago, developers wanted to build 16 rental units there. But faced with neighborhood concerns ranging from the building’s lack of parking spaces to the effects of construction noise on a next door theater, the project was subjected to some 20 hearings and review meetings as the approval process dragged out over a 10-year period, according to the landowner, Mark Rutherford. After getting through eight different board votes to win city approval, it was challenged again by a neighborhood lawsuit.

“It demonstrated an aversion to new housing, coupled with an expensive planning process, topped off with arbitrary decisions,” Wiener wrote in a 2014 op-ed.

Local inhabitants like things just the way they are. Local politicians get re-elected by keeping their constituents happy. Low income housing is an intrusion on established neighborhood norms.

[Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment] said the state needed both affordable and market-rate housing near transit to reverse California’s tendency toward suburban sprawl. “We have to go full bore by building as much transit-oriented housing as possible.”

That's the goal of low income housing advocates and the purpose of Wiener's bill. So what's the problem?

Opponents have declared the move “a war on local planning” that would unleash a huge wave of uncontrolled, private development and have unintended consequences, including gentrification and displacement of inner city minority populations. A Los Angeles city councilman said it could make beach neighborhoods look like “Dubai 10 years later” and Dick Platkin, a former Los Angeles city planner, said allowing eight-story towers around all transit stations would enforce a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

Make beach neighborhoods look like "Dubai 10 years later"? There seems to be a pattern of hysterical over reaction from the local opponents here. Is it possible to get even more hysterical? Of course it is. Back to comparisons with America's genocidal campaign against Native Americans:

Others see Wiener’s plan in even starker terms, underlining the challenge that he and Yimby groups face.

A stakeholders’ coalition in the Crenshaw district, a Los Angeles neighborhood that has historically had a large African American community, charged that the bill would drive up prices.

The result, they said, would be the displacement of low-income residents on the scale of the Trail of Tears that followed President Andrew Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act.

“This will be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Damien Goodmon, director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

They lost me there. I'm not sure how additional low income housing results in higher prices and displacement of low income residents. The unstated parenthetical seems to be that Wiener's legislation will result in gentrification, a very legitimate problem in low income neighborhoods.

The Guardian is doing a masterful job in this continuing series. Be sure to check out the links to additional stories in this year long project:

Outside in America is a year-long series on homelessness in the western US. The project focuses on people on the frontline of a devastating crisis and enables readers to take action to help solve the problem.

18 users have voted.


CB's picture

grab their bootstraps and pick themselves up? Everyone in America can be a multi-billionaire if they just put a bit of effort into it. If they can't afford rent then they should go and get three more jobs. McD's is always hiring. It's the land of opportunity.

12 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

@CB work 3 jobs to pay the rent and find 3 roommates
doing the same so the utilities can be paid and there
is food on the table. -sigh-

7 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." William Casey, CIA Director 1st staff meeting, 1981

The usa government only exists to govern the military

Amanda Matthews's picture

Yep, that stellar Democrat de Blasio snd his administration have it all worked out!

Officials want NYC to stop sending homeless people to Upstate NY

New York City's Human Resources Administration has been relocating homeless people through a Special One Time Assistance program (SOTA) that provides a year's rent up front. However, local municipalities are forced to pick up the rest of their living expenses.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar held a press conference Thursday. He said the process is illegal and needs to stop immediately.

"New York City is avoiding their responsibility to provide these people assistance and transferring their government responsibilities right here to Broome County taxpayers," Garnar said. "One year rent is paid up front by New York City, then New York City abandons them and they now become the responsibility of Broome County."

The Broome County Department of Social Services have identified five cases where New York City transferred its responsibilities by paying a local landlord one year's rent in advance. DSS discovered the situation when the families arrived to apply for SNAP food stamps, Medicaid, and utility benefits, all of which they're now legally entitled to.

Broome's Deputy County Attorney Howard Schultz believes it's happening throughout Upstate New York.

11 users have voted.

I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Lily O Lady's picture

rebuild a neighborhood. Unfortunately, most of the housing ends up costing more than most people can afford. That’s the reason the quote merely implied that gentrification would result. It has happened too many times.

11 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Meteor Man's picture

@Lily O Lady
How housing programs are implemented is the problem. My confusion centers around how low income housing provides higher rent. You would think that low income housing in Crenshaw would be capped at the current median rent, preferrably even lower.

We need an immediate infusion of below market rate housing to solve the problem. How and if that happens remains to be seen.

7 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Daenerys's picture

@Meteor Man the applications on the places say you can only make so much per year to rent here.

Now instead of Hoovervilles we have Googlevilles. Good grief!!

6 users have voted.

This shit is bananas.

Meteor Man's picture

here in L.A.

3 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

snoopydawg's picture

nor is there a lot of places to choose from. Been there, bought the T-shirt and couldn't find anywhere to rent. Back of the line I went. The line is very long.

$20 Billion. That's all it would take to end homelessness. Or as gjohnsit has informed us, there are enough houses for the people who need one. Why is rent going up so drastically? One reason is that the banks and other financial geeks bought up huge blocks of foreclosed homes and they rent them out at any price they want. They couldn't have done this if they had gone to prison, but we don't do that anymore in this country of men, not laws. Imagine now if the people who were under water on their homes got the same help as the banks that caused the global financial crisis did. People would have been able to refinance their mortgages and they would be paying them and still living in their homes. But, no ... another Obama legacy.


The war on the American people is in its end stage. The tax cuts, the assaults on public programs and the upcoming assault on social security should be considered illegal because it goes against our rights of prosperity and the other things related to them. The government was formed to provide for all of the people, not just the ones who can buy it.

It's more important to spend money on killing people and destroying their countries than it is to take care of people. Damn them all!

Trail of Tears? The person who wrote that has no sense of what happened to the Natives who traveled that trail. Shame on him.

9 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Hawkfish's picture

I have a friend who works as a poverty / homeless advocate out there on the coast. Aberdeen is an old logging town falllen on hard times. The mayor wanted to close down the local camp so they could build a tourist boardwalk along the river. The way the local powers that be (including the judges) treated those folks was heartless.

Portland likes to think it is a “liberal” city, but as the Guardian and others have documented, their solution to housing problems is to buy people bus tickets elsewhere - often to Seattle where I live. Seattle of course has housing prices that are heading in the same direction as The Valley, and we have a number of such camps that are vaguely tolerated. At least we have an actual socialist (Kashama Sawant) on the Council who holds their feet to the fire with rallies on this issue.

8 users have voted.

We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg

There are 60,000 homeless people according to the LA Times (March 3,2018). Sixty thousand human beings sleeping in tents, cardboard boxes, ancient Winnebagoes. Being harassed from street to parking lot to back alley because they, shiftless fools that they are, lost those bootstraps they needed to pull themselves up with. Fifty percent of F-35s delivered by Lockheed are "non operational" $400 million lawn ornaments delivered by a trillion dollar program. Ain't this a great country? How about we drop those shiny lawn ornaments,the 50%, off in Malibu, and let the homeless move into them? Or alternatively, why not forego the purchase of, say, 3 lawn ornaments, and provide excellent housing for these human beings, our brothers and sisters?

7 users have voted.
CB's picture

are bitching so much. What the fuck are the poor doing with their money?

According to the latest GDP figures, the income for every man, woman and child is almost $60,000 per year.

2 users have voted.
Hawkfish's picture


In data analytics, we say that the statistic is at the wrong level of detail, or doesn’t describe the distribution. It doesn’t matter what the average (or even the median) income is if the Gini coefficient is over 0.5. So claims that globalization raises some summary statistic are irrelevant if the distribution is skewed. Plus those being skewed are well aware of the reality of their situation.

Another example you see all the time is Hillbots who talk about “winning the popular vote” or quote national statistics about trump voters when the appropriate statistics are at the state level in the battleground states. White working class voters may not have gone for trump nationally, but they did where it counted.

5 users have voted.

We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg