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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Homelessness in a Time of Pandemic

For John, BLUFHomelessness, even with Federal inputs, is still a local problem, with local people being at the coalface.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

The homeless present special challenges in the current crisis.

From City Journal, by Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Eide, 16 March 2020.

Here is the lede plus two:

Thus far, no homeless people have tested positive for coronavirus, though that may be due mainly to the sporadic nature of America’s current testing regime.  Homeless-services agencies long ago realized the threat that they face.  The “phony war” character of the last few weeks has given officials time to plan their response. Most assume an outbreak of COVID-19 among the homeless as a question of when, not if.

The homeless population is large and diverse, and some are more at risk than others, both in terms of contracting the virus and dying from it.  Many of the street homeless practice social distancing as a lifestyle.  Shelters strictly regulate access by non-clients.  The homeless are unlikely to have attended a Biogen conference or traveled recently on a cruise or plane.

But the social isolation of the homeless has major downsides as well, insofar as it may impede the heightened public-health consciousness that officials claim is crucial to mitigating the crisis.  A number of news articles have reported worries among the homeless, but it’s hard to say how representative those reports are, because low-functioning, highly isolated homeless people are less likely to speak to reporters.

The article continues as an even handed and balanced look at the problems of homelessness in a time of a pandemic.

Then we have, from Pajama Media, by Ms Victoria Taft, 15 March 2020.

This is a more cynical look at the homeless problem:
California is the place where nearly 50% of the nation's homeless population have congregated to kick back, live on the beach, collect a check, and use and abuse drugs with impunity.

Citizens from San Diego, where the homeless were hit especially hard by Hepatitis A, to Los Angeles, where typhoid is making a comeback, to San Francisco, where there are visible urine lines on buildings in The Tenderloin, Californians have begged, pleaded, demanded that something be done about the filthy conditions, which threaten everyone's health.  But progressive politicians have done nothing but make such behavior easier.  People like former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon decriminalized anti-social behaviors – open-air drugging, urinating and pooping on the streets. He refused to enforce the law and, indeed, wrote Proposition 47 – passed by voters – that has made the homeless problem even worse.  Gascon is now running for Los Angeles district attorney.

Despite these pleas from the public, little to nothing has been done to get people off the streets and enforce the law to discourage even more from coming.  Californians are being told, in effect, that they're mean and nasty for wanting the drugging, sleeping, pooping, peeing homeless to shove off.  Elected officials claim that they have no way to do this because of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.  By enforcing few if any laws, they entice more to come.

But in Sunday's news conference on the coronavirus, COVID-19, Governor Gavin Newsom gave away the game. In announcing that people 65 and over should stay home and ordering bars, wineries, and breweries to be closed, Newsom also had a word about the homeless and the virus.

Newsom told reporters, "We’re working in real-time to secure hotels, motels, and trailers to house our homeless safely and protect our communities and the spread of COVID-19."

The difference between now and then is that today we are willing to trample on Civil Rights and before we were willing to allow the rights of some to be trampled to protect the freedoms of others.  No longer.

I hope that when the Coronavirus pandemic is over that we can continue with more positive efforts to end homeless.  Having said that, I recognize that while some of it is mental health, part of it is from social policy failures.  How do we fix that?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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