California has a huge homeless crisis. Its great cities, according to numerous media reports, are littered with homeless camps, comprised primarily of people who have drug problems, mental health issues, or both. The streets are said to be covered with excrement and used heroin needles. The phenomenon has driven away visitors to the once Golden State and residents to want to move away.
California Gov Gavin Newsom, a Democrat needless to say, recently mused that he wished that doctors could prescribe homes to the homeless much as they do medication. It is, after all, axiomatic that people who have roofs over their heads tend to be healthier than people who do not.
Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas noticed what Newsom has tweeted. Cruz is as different a politician as one can imagine from Newsom, hailing from a state that is very different than California Cruz took to Twitter and offered some truth about the California housing crisis and its causes.
“This is the Leftist mind: write a slip of paper & a house will magically appear. Never mind that the person doesn’t have a job, the contractor can’t get a CA permit to build the house, rent control has caused a housing shortage & homeless people are crapping on the doorstep.”
Newsom did touch on the mental health aspects of homelessness, noting that one in four Californians suffer from some kind of psychiatric problem, Newsom blamed America’s health system, which he claims is oriented toward fixing physical ailments but not mental ones.
This is the Leftist mind: write a slip of paper & a house will magically appear. Never mind that the person doesn’t have a job, the contractor can’t get a CA permit to build the house, rent control has caused a housing shortage & homeless people are crapping on the doorstep. 🤡 https://t.co/giz3z7vHFB
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 24, 2020
Sen. Cruz offered some advice.
“Maybe stop giving them needles that they leave en masse in public parks? And refusing to prosecute them when they engage in theft or vandalism? How ‘bout drug treatment programs instead?”
NBC News notes that several factors have contributed to California’s homelessness crisis. Because of land use and environmental restrictions, the state has a shortage of available housing for its population. A single-family home costs about $615,000 on average. Rents have skyrocketed twice the national average.
Some analysts cite the ending of the involuntary commitment of mental patients to institutions and the court order emptying of California jails. People who might have had their mental health issues dealt with have been thrown away into the streets.
Because of regulatory barriers, it costs over $400,000 to build a two-bedroom family home in California. A government program to build homes for the homeless in California would cost tens of billions of dollars, not counting the cost of getting homeless people sane and sober and getting them jobs.
Besides removing regulatory barriers to building new housing stock, a possible solution to California’s homeless problem resides in Houston, Texas, inside Ted Cruz’s home state. California Matters explains.
“Houston has reduced homelessness by over half, from a peak of around 8,500 in 2011 to around 4,000 in 2019, according to federal point-in-time data. The city began by bringing together more than 100 agencies, including the city of Houston, the counties, nonprofit agencies, businesses and the federal HUD. Coalition members continually update a data dashboard that tracks homeless people as they interact with shelters and services. During regular meetings, they match a list of homeless people seeking permanent supportive housing with spots. A sobriety center provides a safe place for people who are publicly intoxicated to sober up — and avoid an arrest record. Federal funding has been key to bringing thousands of new supportive housing units online: HUD nearly doubled its funding for Houston homelessness programs between 2008 and 2018, to $38.2 million.”
Of course, even at its height, Houston’s homelessness problem was far less than any that exists in California’s big cities. Also. Houston has no zoning laws, with land use governed by homeowner’s associations. The effect of this unique situation is that housing is cheaper in Houston than in California and is thus easier to build to accommodate an expanding population.
California’s homelessness crisis has become a bone of contention between Newsom and President Donald Trump. Trump has recently called upon Newsom to fix the homelessness problem in his state or the federal government would step in a do it for him.
Trump’s offer (or a threat depending on one’s point of view) to help with California’s homelessness crisis got plaudits from an unusual source. Former action star and governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger thanked the president for his offer of help, according to Fox News. The sentiment is unusual considering that the two men detest one another personally. But the old saying that politics makes strange bedfellows is true in this case.