WASHINGTON: In California, homelessness is an epidemic that is destroying cities like San Francisco, exhausting natural resources and communities. Fires have driven the town of Paradise to extinction, creating a whole new community of the homeless. That these people have not yet found state-funded housing where they can safely live while they rebuild is a crisis. And a crime.
The Federal Government, represented by FEMA has responded, but people are living in tents, in the rain. In a Walmart parking lot. . In the rain. In America. But this is nothing new. Large populations are living in tents in San Francisco as artificial housing prices have escalated to the point that the middle class is living on the streets.
Politicians like Governor Brown, Maxine Waters, Diane Feinstein, and the Hollywood glitterati opine from their multi-million dollar mansions that California should allow another 10,000 or more illegal immigrants into the state. However, that should not happen until the residents of the nearly 12,000 homes destroyed in Paradise alone are found safe, permanent shelter. A disturbing fact is that over 25% over those in Paradise were aged 65 or older.
And many are still missing.
And before one illegal immigrant is given housing or welfare, the people of Paradise and Malibu must be taken care of.
But that is not the start of the California homeless crisis.
Loss of jobs put many Californians on the street. In May of 2017 KBPS.org reported (High Unemployment, Low Wages Drive Growing Homeless Population In Imperial County).
“Imperial County’s homeless population has tripled compared to last year, driven in part by high unemployment and low wages, according to a report by the Imperial Valley Continuum of Care Council.
Countywide, nearly 1,100 homeless people were tallied during the annual count taken in January, up from 380 homeless people counted last year. All of the additional 691 people were sleeping outside on the streets.”
With a population (July 2017) of 182,183, the problem of homelessness in Imperial Country cannot be ignored. What is also a striking statistic, is that this unemployed and homeless population is not made up of only the disenfranchised, but also the white middle class that gives America it’s economic strength.
Unemployment at record highs correlates with an increase of homelessness.
When people lose their jobs during bad economic times, they have often already spent any ‘rainy day’ savings they have. If they even had it to begin with. The result is they end up living in their cars, if they were lucky, or on the streets. Women, children, and men.
America does not have a system, beyond food stamps and welfare, that people can fall back on when they are sick, without insurance or jobless. One of the problems with most government sponsored benefits is that if you are homeless, without a mailing address, getting benefits gets more difficult, if not impossible.
The mentally ill and homeless epidemic began in the 1960s, but continues on today
IN 1959 California was providing care to some 37,500 patients in state mental hospitals. Under California Governor Edmund Brown’s (D-CA) administration (1959-1967) the former state Attorney General saw those numbers drop to 22,000.
Becoming governor of the state of California in 1967, Ronald Reagan (R-CA) continued to see declines as did his successor, Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. (D-CA). 40 years later the present policies of that same Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, has literally destroyed the state in his quest to create a liberal utopia.
The goal was never the health of the people, but the ability to raze hospitals to rezone and reuse the valuable land they occupied. For example, the China Basin mental health facility in San Francisco was razed to allow for the building of a sports stadium, and revitalization of the area to include the dense housing that most San Franciscans can no longer afford.
Speaking out about the policy of releasing the mentally ill back into the population, the elder Governor Brown said ”They’ve gone far, too far, in letting people out,” in an interview. And we now reap the rewards of those decisions.
In the NY Times article, How Release of Mental Patients Began (10/30/1984)
Dr. Robert H. Felix, who was then director of the National Institute of Mental Health and a major figure in the shift to community centers, says now on reflection:
”Many of those patients who left the state hospitals never should have done so. We psychiatrists saw too much of the old snake pit, saw too many people who shouldn’t have been there and we overreacted. The result is not what we intended, and perhaps we didn’t ask the questions that should have been asked when developing a new concept, but psychiatrists are human, too, and we tried our damnedest.”
Lending credence to the saying “Hindsight is 20/20”
Homelessness and the drug epidemic
When evicted from mental health facilities, not only did people not capable of managing their lives and medications land on the street homeless, they also lose access to the medications that allow them to function normally.
In that NY Times article, How Release of Mental Patients Began, Jack R. Ewalt, who directed the staff of the Joint Commission when it was founded in 1955, is quoted saying that he remains ”a great believer in the use of drugs, but they are just another treatment, not a magic.”
”Drugs can help people get back to the community,” he said, ”but they have to have medical care, a place to live and someone to relate to. They can’t just float around aimlessly.”
Dr. Ewalt said the 1963 Community Mental Health Act’s intent was to have the states continue to take care of the mentally ill but that many states simply gave up. The problem becoming the responsibility of the Federal Government.
”The result was like proposing a plan to build a new airplane and ending up only with a wing and a tail,” Dr. Ewalt said. ”Congress and the state governments didn’t buy the whole program of centers, plus adequate staffing, plus long-term financial supports.’
Thus the shuttering of mental health hospitals in favor of local, clinic-based care that required a person to be able to proactively manage their own care failed in the 1960s and continues to fail today.
Community Mental Health Act of 1963
A major landmark in America’s history of mental health rights, the Community Mental Health Act act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on October 31, 1963. The Act was the first of several federal policy changes that helped spark a major transformation of the public mental health system by shifting resources away from large institutions towards community-based mental health treatment programs.
The article quotes Dr. M. Brewster Smith, a University of California psychologist who said the commission took the direction it did because of ”the sort of overselling that happens in almost every interchange between science and government.”
”Extravagant claims were made for the benefits of shifting from state hospitals to community clinics,” Dr. Smith said. ”The professional community made mistakes and was overly optimistic, but the political community wanted to save money.”
‘Tranquilizers Became Panacea’
Once a proponent of the shift to community mental health care, Charles Schlaifer who was the secretary-treasurer of the group behind the 1963 act, says the advice presented by leading psychiatrists of that day was misleading.
”Tranquilizers became the panacea for the mentally ill,” he said. ”The state programs were buying them by the carload, sending the drugged patients back to the community and the psychiatrists never tried to stop this. Local mental health centers were going to be the greatest thing going, but no one wanted to think it through.”
And thus a program to help the mentally ill became a drug epidemic that, for the last fifty-odd years has increased the number of mentally ill on the streets. This has had the effect of increased crime, use of illegal street drugs, disease and homeless people living, defecating, and doing drugs on the street, in the metro centers and private areas.
Bussing the homeless out
In the article Bussed out How America moves its homeless, Guardian.Com writers provide a series of articles on how cities, big and small, are solving their homeless problem by bussing, and sometimes flying, people out.
Each year, US cities give thousands of homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town. An 18-month nationwide investigation by the Guardian reveals, for the first time, what really happens at journey’s end – Guardian.com
During the big clean-up of New York, Guiliani bought a number of homeless from Big Apple a one-way bus ticket to California. A lot of the NYC homeless went to San Francisco. And we all know the turmoil and filth the homeless are causing in San Francisco. Additionally, San Francisco is very gay-friendly, making it a popular destination for runaway LGBT youth.
Insult to injury, a favorite place to send the homeless is politically decimated way before Maria hit Puerto Rico. Also a politically liberal place that kept supplies from its people, lest the Federal Government and President Trump look responsive.
Once homeless, it is hard to change
Once you are homeless, like the people in Paradise are, it is very hard to return to “normal” life. You can’t bathe or wash your clothes as much as you’d like. You do not have a mailbox or access to a mailbox in order to get federal help. Most prospective employers want an address and a phone number, so finding a job becomes difficult.
Meager possessions are toted about in a backpack or shopping cart. If you have a camp at the underpass or along the beach, you can become a victim of crime, your possessions stolen or confiscated by the police. Money earned by panhandling goes to alleviate immediate miseries by drinking alcohol or taking drugs rather than to self-improvement.
Paradise residents are a microcosm of the journey from homebound to homeless
Those suffering from the California fires are a microcosm of an overall epidemic in America. An epidemic increased by the Obama administration’s lack of focus on homeless Americans, men, women, and children. And too many veterans suffering from mental health issues as a result of their service to America.
Instead of addressing these issues, Democrats are busy wanting to swell the number of homeless persons, with illegal aliens getting ready to surge our Southern border. Ask anyone living in the Walmart parking lot, sleeping on concrete, unable to get away from the cold of the rain how they feel about letting 10,000 illegal immigrants into California. Ten thousand immigrants Liberals will demand the U.S. government provide food, clothing and health care too.
According to the Journal, illegal immigrants receive taxpayer-funded care in numerous cities”
- Los Angeles, CA (135,000),
- Santa Barbara, CA (54,000),
- Boston, MA (103,000),
- Queens County, NY (71,000),
- Montgomery County, MD (25,000)
As a resident of Montgomery County, MD I can honestly say, I did not know that.
Additionally, there is the care provided to uninsured illegals by physicians, and the practice of hospital cost-shifting -moving the costs that unpaid to those that are paying.
In Forbes, Christopher Conover writes that all of this added up to about $11.9 billion in medical care for unauthorized immigrants with no insurance coverage in 2016.
[U]ninsured immigrants who are unauthorized likely receive about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers, another $3.0 bankrolled through “cost-shifting” i.e., higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care.
This issue is no longer a “be kind to our neighbors from the South.” It is a saving America from crime, disease, and the scourge of homelessness. It does not take a genius to realize that 10,000 people coming into America are going to join the homeless.
If housing and health care are available to illegal aliens from Central America, those benefits should go first to those that gave first to America. American Citizens, American veterans, and the ravaged people of Paradise in their desperate time of need.
Lead Image: Photo by THE COLLAB. from Pexels – https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-human-lying-on-ground-covered-of-cardboard-box-1060365/