From wsws.org, a tragic report few will ever read:
“While the Hollywood establishment is fully engaged in other matters, the social reality in Los Angeles on the Thanksgiving holiday stands in stark contrast to media depictions of the entertainment capital as the place where the American dream comes true.
Last June, a report revealed that the number of homeless in Los Angeles County jumped to 58,000, a 23 percent increase from 2016. In recent weeks, a hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless population has prompted officials to declare a state of emergency in some areas. Last month, it was reported that this year there are thousands fewer shelter beds than in 2009, with only 0.3 beds per homeless person.”
Marc Wells then notes that the LA Regional Food Bank estimates that 1.4 million people in the county experience food insecurity, meaning that a sixth of the population don’t know where their next meals will come from. He cites soaring housing and transportation costs as pushing even two-income food deprivation, but I’d have to guess medical costs as well.
“An index of worsening conditions is given by a 68 percent increase in the youth homeless population (18- to 24-year-olds) over 2016. Los Angeles community colleges report that one in five students is homeless, while two-thirds cannot afford proper nutrition.
The situation for homeless youth is believed to be worse than reported. Bill Bedrossian, the CEO of Covenant House California, a nonprofit organization that serves homeless 18- to 24-year-olds, commented that his organization has seen an increase of young men and women in recent years. Half of them are former foster kids.”
Wells writes that the homeless are treated to two of the solutions to social inequality: hide it (them) or institutionalize (cynically normalize) them.
“On one hand the severity of social inequality is rigorously concealed by diversion campaigns. On the other, politicians, especially Democrats, propose hundreds of millions of dollars not to address the underlying issues typical of capitalist society, such as social inequality, but to make homelessness an institution with which society should learn to permanently coexist, while private contractors are given the chance to enrich themselves off public funds.
It doesn’t require exceptional imagination to foresee that the proposed tax cut bill passed by the US House of Representatives last week, which includes an estimated $1.5 trillion tax cuts for corporations, will produce deadly conditions for the socially vulnerable, as the budget for aid programs are slashed and crucial entitlement and social programs like Social Security and Medicare are threatened.”
If I understand correctly, many of the agencies of what remains of the social network require an address, which of course the homeless, even those living in tent cities across Amerika…don’t have. And we remember well how many Obamaville tent cities like this one in CO were brutally shut down back in the day, as well as how many states and cities criminalized homelessness, as well as feeding the homeless, well as criminalizing searching dumpsters and other trash receptacles for discarded, but entirely edible, food.
A wsws team interviewed a number of volunteers at the LA Mission’s ‘Skid Row Thanksgiving at the tent city around San Pedro and 5th Street. A commenter below the exposé said that it’s similar in San Diego.
In March of 2016 RT had published Cynthia McKinney’s op-ed ‘America, we have a problem: Homelessness is out of control’.
“It’s hard to imagine that the country that controls so much nuclear firepower and drops so many bombs every day is unwilling to educate its children and house its own people.”
(I’d think they come from the same sick well of cavalier cruelty, myself…)
“The poor have been with us since there was an “us.” And, as much as I would like to see zero poverty in the United States, a country that spends trillions on its domestic and international security apparatuses, I know that the political will for such policies is just not there today. This, despite the efforts of thousands of people just like me all over the country to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of the poor in the US. Instead, it has become clear from the rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential campaigns, that it is easier to preen oneself by boasting of increasing such security spending, and almost never to decrease it. Not even Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders discusses cutting back on military spending and cutting weapons systems. Thus, we can have a Presidential election and not one word is uttered about the criminalization of the poor and now the crisis of homelessness that afflicts a growing number of cities on the west coast of the US.”
She’d quoted the Child Trends DataBank figures that at the start of the 2013-14 school year, 1.4 million students had no address to give to school authorities, and that while figures are supremely hard to come by, child homelessness was increasing.
“From California to Washington State—from the Mexican border to the Canadian border—mayors are grappling with a homeless problem evocative of the Great Depression and “Hoover Towns” known during the presidency of Herbert Hoover as “Hoovervilles.” On December 10, 2015, mayors from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Eugene, Oregon held their first Summit in Portland on the housing crisis engulfing their cities. They proclaimed that they don’t understand enough about what is happening to their citizens and in the country. They gathered because they are concerned about the impact on their cities. They also recognized that many of the homeless are veterans of the Administration’s current wars.
Ten years ago, Portland declared its ‘war’ against homelessness yet, in 2016, there are as many homeless as there were at the time of the declaration. A tech worker in San Francisco wrote a letter to the mayor complaining about having to come into visual contact with “homeless riff-raff.” I doubt that that same tech worker even bothered to defend the right of people to remain in their neighborhoods attacked by rapacious developers who have veritably wiped out San Francisco’s Black community and inner-city neighborhoods where people could find affordable housing. The nuns of the Fraternité Notre Dame who run the Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen are an example. They tend to the needs of San Francisco’s homeless. But, they, themselves are at risk of becoming homeless because the landlord raised their rent by more than 50 percent while a developer lurks in the background attempting to build more housing in the neighborhood, but is opposed by residents because not enough of it is affordable. The San Francisco Weekly News calls the city’s homeless population the result of the city’s failed policies. Seattle declared a homelessness ‘State of Emergency’ in November of last year.
She quotes Dwight Eisenhower at the end:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
Side note: Cynthia McKinney was not one of the authors of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; it was passed in 1987 and signed into law by Ronald Raygun.
From EdSource via the daily news: ‘Young and homeless in America: Survey says the problem is worsening’, Nov. 21, 2017
A few outtakes, but the numbers are horrifying, if unsurprising:
“More than 4 percent of adolescents and 10 percent of young adults nationwide were living on the street, in cars or shelters, or couch-surfing at some point in the last year, according to a sweeping study by the University of Chicago released last week.”
“Among its findings:
- Rural homelessness was nearly equal to urban homelessness.
- LGBT youth were 120 percent more likely to become homeless than their straight peers.
- African-American youth were 83 percent more likely to become homeless than other groups.
- Among those homeless youth who were 18 to 25 years old, the primary reasons they were homeless were high housing costs, low wages and large student debt, according to Matthew Morton, a research fellow at University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall policy research center who oversaw the study.
The study recommends that Congress invest more in safety-net programs, such as child welfare, education and counseling, and promote more affordable housing. Better cooperation between schools, the juvenile justice system, public health agencies and other groups that deal with low-income families would also help, he said.”
Sigh; oh, yes. That’ll be the day… Wot? Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
NationalHomeless.org has the most complete compendium of reports I was able to find, as in ‘just the straight dope’, not politicized, begging for donations to compromised NGOs, etc. Report categories are Hate Crimes, Discrimination and Criminalization Studies, (including ‘Swept Away: Reporting on the Encampment Closure Crisis (2016), and Other Publications, one of which is ‘Mental Illness and Homelessness’, which was based on a survey of city mayors, so…I dunno how accurate it is.
And for our fine friend of the Café J (and various other guises) who will tell some of his homeless stories one day: ‘2017 Thurston County homeless census will target veterans, youths, rural communities’, theolympian.com
“In 2016, volunteers counted 579 homeless people, which was higher than 2015’s count of 476 and about even with 2014’s count of 576.
The leading causes for homelessness were listed as economic problems, job loss, family crisis, being kicked out of home, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness.”
The homeless in america hashtag is highly political, with plenty of reactionary rubbish, but: