Affordable Housing Not the Key to End Homeless Crisis

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Politicians tell us if we can just build enough affordable housing, California’s difficult homeless situation would end. To that end they have encouraged voters to support tax increases while searching for legislative remedies to ease the crisis. Yet, a simple formula of affordable housing will not address the problem by itself.

On Sunday’s version of KNBC Los Angeles News Conference show hosted by Conan Nolan, KNBC’s I-Team Investigative Reporter Joel Grover revealed some of the truths he learned over many months reporting a series titled, “Streets of Shame.” His conclusion: political leaders are not being honest about Southern California’s homeless problem.

“What I am seeing does not meet the neat narrative of what politicians are telling us. The mayor, the city council people like to say that this is a crisis of affordable housing. If we could just build more housing, more shelters we could get the tens of thousands of homeless people off the streets. What I’m seeing doesn’t jibe with that.”

Grover says the homeless themselves don’t see affordable housing as a remedy. “I always ask them the same question: If there was a space in a shelter would you rather be in a shelter than on the streets and every one of them tells me “No” they would rather be here on the streets, being in a shelter is like being in a prison. You have rules you have to follow. You can’t bring drugs into a shelter. I’m here by choice.”

The homeless people say they are often drug addicted and have mental health issues or abusive pasts.  Grover said that many people need extensive drug or mental health services, yet they may not want to accept those services.

Some of the money being spent on homeless housing might be better directed in helping the homeless escape their addictions and health problems.

Residents living close to homeless encampments told Grover they don’t feel safe.

“Can you imagine living in a home and every day you look out your front windows and every day there are people defecating or urinating on the street in front of your house or next to your car or on your car–this happens–or people shooting up? This is what people who live near some of these encampments have to deal with everyday.”

Grover added, “Can you imagine what would happen if someone was defecating outside the mayor of Los Angeles’ home? I don’t think that would happen.”

The police do little to ease the situation. In fact, the reporter said police officers told him they were instructed to take it easy with the homeless.

“I think the way they are approaching this problem by saying we’ve got to build more housing is not helping the homeless people,” Grover said, “and it certainly is not helping the residents who have to put up with the crime and the filth from encampments.”

Grover concluded that the homeless crisis was one of the most pressing facing the area. “The homeless problem is ruining the quality of life that we love so much in Southern California.”

To view the segment on the homeless crisis from KNBC’s News Conference and Conan Nolan’s interview with Joel Grover, go here.

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