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Enabling Homelessness is Not Social Justice

California is suffering from a severe homelessness crisis, and the state’s policies are only hurting those they are trying to help.

Author Michael Shellenberger hosted a series of interviews on the street to learn more about the homeless population in San Francisco. He realized that much of what we hear from the media about homelessness simply isn’t true.

One homeless man named James admitted that he moved to California from Texas because it’s much easier to be homeless in San Francisco than anywhere else. “They pay you to be homeless here,” he said. In San Francisco, James is given $820 in welfare and food stamps each month. He started receiving assistance from the government after just one phone call.

James even admitted that he sold fentanyl to a 15-year-old, providing a glimpse into the basis of the drug epidemic.  

Another homeless man named Ben told Shellenberger that the vast majority of the homeless population in California come from other cities and find sanctuary in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that hundreds of homeless people migrate to the bay area every year due to the “perception that it is a sanctuary for people who are unwilling to participate in programs designed to get them off and keep them off a life in the streets. 

Through his own research, Shellenberger found that drug addiction is the primary cause for homelessness, negating the progressive argument that poverty is the driving force. Ben and James both told Shellenberger that crime, violence, and overdoses are incredibly common in homeless areas, and police are unable to stop the drug cycle.

Cities that actually help their homeless population boast very different policies. The city of Houston, Texas provides an excellent example of what effectively caring for the homeless population and the city should look like.

Houston offers housing for the chronically homeless, has formed a group of non-profit partners to help the homeless get back on their feet, and has lobbied the state government for more addiction and mental health services, according to PragerU.

Further, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has implemented a strict ban on public camping and discouraged citizens from giving money to the homeless. As a result, the homeless population in Houston has decreased by 54% over the last eight years, while the crisis has skyrocketed on the west coast. 

California progressives, on the other hand, are lobbying for more drug injection sites and have decriminalized robberies of items under $950. Our state has also legalized public camping.

Enabling homelessness is not in the best interest of those on the streets or the residents of the city. This is not true social justice.

We are not upholding the dignity of the person by allowing the homeless to continue to live on the streets and engage in self-destructive behavior. Moreover, the homeless crisis significantly impacts the safety of California cities, and our families deserve better.

As Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Christopher Rufo claimed, the best approach is to mix “compassion with commonsense enforcement.”

Showing the homeless population tough love, helping them find work, and enforcing strict policies is the most compassionate approach to the homelessness crisis.

As Mayor Turner said, “It is simply not acceptable for people to live in the streets; it is not good for them, and it is not good for the city.”

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