Kick ’em While They’re Down – Homeless in L.A.

The city of L.A. bans sleeping in a vehicle overnight.

By D.R. Harward

The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance aimed at the almost homeless, which will likely cause many to become fully homeless if the new law is fully enforced.

Within days of convincing Los Angeles County voters to approve a $1.2 billion bond measure (that will be repaid thru a property tax increase) to address homelessness by providing homes for the displaced, the LA City council overwhelmingly (10-1) passed an ordinance that outlaws sleeping in a vehicle in many parts of the city.

Specifically, sleeping in a vehicle is banned in so-called residential areas only, leaving commercial areas available to accommodate the tired and the drowsey.

The lone vote against the ordinance came from councilman Mitch Englander, who said;

“The biggest thing is all you’re doing is moving the problem. People living in their car and saying you can’t be in a residential community, but you can be in a commercial community, that doesn’t make sense,” according to ABC 7 news.

For the casual observer Englander is correct, this new law does not make sense for a multitude of reasons; one of which is that it does absolutely nothing to resolve the problem, but instead makes it worse for both the displaced and their temporary neighbors. For those unable to immediately relocate their vehicle, there is a likelihood that the City will assist them; by towing away and impounding their vehicles. For many, the loss of their vehicle will force them to live on the street where they do not have even rudimentary security or safety that can be had by simply locking their car doors. Residents will also face added danger of harm from those persons who have lost everything they have and become emboldened by their newly aggravated desperation.

christian-science-monitorChristian Science Monitor

Sidewalk sleepers in Los Angeles California

The council’s’ action are less of a surprise to the more cynical amongst us, those that look to the past as an indication of what to expect in the future. When it comes to abating homelessness in Los Angeles, local government has failed miserably—from the point of view of the homeless that is. But, from the point of view of a Continuum of Care providers the current system of addressing a social issue by providing grants to local groups, which are certified by a county level agency.

Take 2013 for example; according to the Homeless Assistance Award Report dated March of 2014 and issued by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA); in the 2013 fiscal year $77,391,406 was distributed throughout Los Angeles County to aid the homeless. That amount doesn’t include the additional expenditures made by local government to abate homelessness, which when added together push the amount to well over $100 million spent that year (note: this amount does not include funding to General Relief, Food Stamps, or Social Security/Disability programs).

Yet according to the LA Times homelessness increased 12% between 2013 and 2015. Somehow, our local government spent almost $200 million and the result was an increase of the ranks of the homeless.

In fact, nearly all of that money does not go to the homeless at all, but instead is parceled out into grants to various community service providers; each with their own programs that consist of a hodge podge of services that do not offer a consistent path towards obtaining a permanent domicile. In other words, the money meant for the homeless is instead given to a cottage industry of homelessness abatement providers who have little to no incentive to reduce their pool of potential clients. Every person that leaves the street is one less justification for revenue for many of these so-called providers of assistance. But don’t just take my word for it, look in the archives of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority yourself; looking through the linked “supporting documents” will uncover numerous examples of careless spending and misguided programs.

The LA City council’s’ latest ‘kick ‘em while they’re down’ ordinance is in keeping with the current policy of ‘profit while they’re down’ philosophy that local government has thus far applied to the homeless problem. So remember, if you are driving in the city of LA and you get tired, pull over, get out of your car and take a nap on the sidewalk because your car in now a snooze-free zone.

Your thoughts?