Nearly 50% of the homeless are in California. For a State that has the same party governing almost every part of the state apparatus, to say that is politically embarrassing woould be an understatement. Especially when that State is running a budget surplus and is among the richest in the nation. Actually its one of the richest on the planet. Mental health is a major issue. Ill leave that for another post at another time. In this post I want to focus on another factor.
Affordability is clearly a problem. Homes for longterm residents and workers are unaffordable, either to buy or to rent. Municipal, state and national funds are limited, both for housing and social/mental care, despite the fact we live in one of the highest tax environments on the planet! And here in Paso, like many communities in the state, we are the sort of place any sensible human forced to live and sleep outside will gravitate towards.
I have a concrete proposal. It requires a ‘tough love’ approach.The ‘Love Part’:The County of San Luis Obispo, and its incumbent cities, should look at what the average levels of homelessness are in counties and cities that have a similar geographic and socio-economic profile. They should then collectively agree to a program that would accommodate and support that level, plus a 25-percent increase to prove that SLO County & Paso is a caring, considerate and pragmatic community. That program should be funded appropriately with a collaborative county wide budget that is spent on housing and integrated support services, leveraging local charities where possible.
Now comes the ‘Tough’ part: Once the target number of homeless is being housed and helped, the county should make it clear that it cannot and will not accomodate or help any new people coming into the county looking to ‘sleep rough.’ Once the homes and services are at capacity, those unlucky enough to be excluded will be moved on.
I know that sounds callous and that neighboring counties, not to mention advocacy groups, may claim foul play. However, they may be shamed into promoting a similar approach, which would extend the program and help even more homeless people.
No program like this can be perfect. At least this program would prove that we live in a community that doesn’t just care more than others, but actually delivers pragmatic solutions for tough challenges.
Sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind!
PS. To those readers who find my proposal cruel, unreasonable or misguided; by all means says so. However, rather than just shooting my idea down, please come up with some pragmatic solutions of your own.