Any plan that is to be seriously considered must factor in the sheer volume of homeless persons we now face. 80 unit shelters, scheduled to open in 2025, at a cost of over $500,000 per bed are nonsensical. The homeless population in LA County exceeds 100,000 (LA City is purportedly 66,000). Again, any serious plan must reduce the numbers of homeless in meaningful way. We stress this point as no LA official has presented a plan that will reduce the homeless population by 1%. They have no idea as to what to do with the remaining 99%.
Who are the homeless in LA?
Many of the current proposals to address homelessness fail to acknowledge that people have become homeless for distinctly different reasons, and therefore, will require different forms of assistance to recover from being homeless. Our plan stratifies the homeless into 3 main groups, and provides significantly different solutions for each group.
Group 1 – approximately 30% have suffered an economic hardship and will be able to get back on their feet if provided with temporary housing and job opportunities.
Group 2 - approximately 40% have mental health and/or addiction problems and require care. These people will require long term care in a proper facility and cannot be left in tents in a parking lot.
Group 3 - approximately 30% suffer no disability or economic hardship, but are satisfied with living in a tent in an urban area. Many within this cohort have moved to Calif to take advantage of the high relative benefits paid by the State.
Proposed solution – Group 1
The majority of these persons suffered an economic hardship (usually a job loss) which led to a downward trajectory, finally resulting in homelessness. These people have low educational attainment level, were generally in the bottom quartile of earners, poor attachment to the labor market, worked in occupations with high turnover rates.
The job loss led to > maxed out credit lines > evicted from housing > car repo’d > homeless > cell service terminated. From a practical perspective, they are detached from being functional to the extent that they will require housing and care for a period of some months to become employed and self sufficient.
Warehouse jobs are available in the Riverside and San Bernardino area. The I10, I15 and 215 corridors have millions of sq ft of warehouse operations with thousands of open jobs right now. Construct tent city(s) near to these warehouses which would include the same resources as are used to house our military personnel. It would provide the homeless with safe housing, food, and healthcare. This would provide an opportunity for the homeless who want a path way to a normal and productive life to have safe temporary housing, with a job, and healthcare.
Get them working, get them back on their feet, their self worth will return. They will need to be stabilized financially before they can leave. Many of these people need to declare bankruptcy, be absolved of their debts, and start over financially. A proper ‘wrap around’ bridge solution which provides them with a place to live, a job, healthcare and a clean start will enable them to return to living an independent, productive and dignified life.
Variations of this proposal have been successfully implemented in Switzerland, Vancouver, Dallas, and other metro areas. Major ecommerce retailers and distribution companies have practices in place to onboard homeless persons and give them a fresh start.
Proposed solution – Group 2
These persons have severe mental health and/or serious addiction issues.
Many will require public assistance for their entire lives. This cannot be done in a tent in a parking lot, far from public health services.
A temporary village, with living quarters comprised of tiny homes, healthcare, and other necessary services should be established in the low cost, Palmdale area of LA County. These tiny homes can be purchased for approximately $11,000 per unit and are in use in other homeless villages. This would provide a safe living environment for these persons until a permanent facility can be constructed.
A permanent facility will be required to house these persons for as long as they require care. Given the magnitude of the homeless population that suffers from serious mental health issues, a facility that has the capacity to house thousands of persons on a long term basis must considered as the most rational solution. This cannot be done at scale in high cost areas.
Some will be rehabilitated and can transition to Group 1 type care.
Every major metro area either has or should have a mental health facility that is capable of providing proper care for the truly needy. LA’s policy makers have chosen to commingle the mentally handicapped with the general homeless population, to the detriment of these handicapped persons.
Proposed solution – Group 3
When able bodied homeless commit crimes relating to public urination/defecation, use of illicit drugs, unsafe disposal of syringes, habitual loitering, arrest them.
House them in tents in the high desert, or the Salton Sea area. Low cost, uncomfortable, vastly different than ‘living the dream’ on an LA beach.
Eliminate the ‘welcome mat’ philosophy that is currently offered at great expense to the law abiding taxpayer.
Cities such as NY, Houston, San Diego and many others do not allow able bodied persons to be liabilities to society. They are arrested when they commit crimes, and relocated to low cost areas.
Provide an option to transfer to Group 1 for good behaviour.