Shelley Housing/Homelessness Q3
What’s missing is a disaggregation of the “homelessness” problem into distinct categories with unique causes.
In the 1960s, California adopted the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which provided for the involuntary commitment and treatment of a person who is a danger to himself or herself or others or who is gravely disabled. The definition of “gravely disabled” included being unable to provide for the basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter. Disabling mental illness must be recognized and people must be helped, not cynically used as a justification for wasteful tax increases or proposed public works projects.
The problem of substance abuse cannot be helped by enabling addicts to conceal themselves in tents on the streets and other public spaces. Before any public, private or non-profit entity can help, that option has to be withdrawn.
To the extent that people are on the streets solely because they can’t afford to live anywhere, a combination of housing assistance and job opportunities is the rational solution, and because job opportunities come from businesses, it would be helpful for state policies to encourage hiring and to create the conditions that allow businesses to succeed in California.