Homelessness Task Force Isn’t Up To The Task

A state homelessness task force is recommending that local governments be hauled into court if they aren’t moving people off the streets. It’s unlikely to help. The most probable outcome is an increased burden on the courts and a higher dose of politics into an arena where politics have already failed.

The idea is part of a recently released set of proposals issued by the 13-member group appointed last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The task force wants to amend the state constitution so that the state could sue counties and cities if they don’t cut their homeless populations. Newsom wants the amendment on the November ballot.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is chairing the Council of Regional Homeless Advisors, “argues that the state needs to carry a big stick to convince local governments that they will face consequences if they don’t get people off the streets — including the possible loss of local control.”

Some local governments have already found a way to cut their homeless populations. They herd their homeless residents out of their jurisdictions and into other cities, where they become someone else’s problem. It’s not hard to envision an environment in which an amendment weaponizes the practice and cities play a numbers game, moving the homeless around from locality to locality as if they are pieces in a game of hot potato.

While the ballot measure has received the most coverage, the task force is also, according to Ridley-Thomas’ office:

  • Recommending “strengthening renter protections, cracking down on rent gouging,” which will only make matters worse since those steps will inflame the housing shortage.
  • Hoping to provide the homeless “with rent subsidies and other support to remain housed,” a moral hazard that will swell the numbers of those demanding subsidies and support.
  • And suggesting the “streamlining the construction of permanent supportive housing, affordable housing, and service-enriched temporary shelters,” an idea that is about half right, as the permitting process for all housing needs to be streamlined.

There’s not much from the rest of the task force’s 40 recommendations to inspire confidence. It naturally includes new spending, but only a single reference to the “substance abuse” problems that are a significant part of the problem. Little happens unless that factor is thoroughly addressed.

As PRI’s Tim Anaya has noted, the task force’s members “all represent a government-only approach to addressing California’s homeless crisis.” Meanwhile, the infantry doing the dirty and real work on the streets, made up of the private charities and nonprofit organizations that have no political or bureaucratic agendas to follow, and are not part of the homeless-industrial complex that doesn’t want the problem solved, was shut out. This is a government show, doomed from the start.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.


  1. The Captive says

    They need people from the community to divide up the HOMELESS problem into : Mental problems
    drug problems – age related – and problems that are other related. Each group is different as humans are and seek different solutions. Will they get down to business and DO THE RIGHT THING?

  2. This is a problem that can not be completely solved. There are to many problems that cause the main problem of homelessness. The first is the cost of housing in calif. When the governor talks about low cost housing that only cost 500k you know there is a problem. The first thing that needs to be done is to get rid of CEQA in its present form and then stop all the silly lawsuits like the ones the unions use to force the builder to use union labor only. The other problem is there are in general 4 kinds of homeless. those with mental problems, those with drug problems, those that just lost their jobs and homes, and people that just like living on the streets. To help those with mental problems you have to have enough facilities to take them all in and then you have to force them in and force them to drug themselves into normalcy which is probably illegal. After which you have to decide if you are going to let them go or keep them. If you let them go even will access to free drugs a large percentage of them will quit taking the drugs and will be homeless again. The exact same situation applies to the people with drug problems. The ones that like living on the street you can’t help, they don’t want it or like it and will go back to the street at the first chance. The only group you can help is the ones that lost jobs and homes. what you need for them is an old unused school. You can turn the rooms into dorms you have the multipurpose rooms to teach them a trade of some kind. and you have the cafeteria to feed them and the gym for showers. You can train them help them find jobs and their own housing.

  3. First, Newsom needs to shut the southern border and stop giving away free benefits and other stuff.
    If you feed them you enable them to stay and grow.
    We all know that there are drug, mental, and hard times, not to mention illegal immigrants represented in this population.
    Institutionalize the whole population after six months of stopping the benefits of being homeless.
    After they are institutionalized you will be able to sort them out as to which category they fall. Then you can deal with the problem.
    Right now they are a hazard to themselves and the public at large and therefore need to be removed, by force if necessary, and placed under authority. With the option of leaving the state or staying for the consequences.
    Get tough California, there is no other way.

  4. Once upon a time there were Hobo’s. They were embarrassed to walk around and hid. If they did not find a place to live or a church to help them (Churches get Federal subsidy to help the poor), they would be arrested for vagrancy or sleeping on sidewalk or camping on the street.

    Law and Order is gone in California. Homelessness abounds. Real Simple. We have no regard for the public good or tax money and, therefore, no regard for law and order in California. The people who pay the taxes are the people being hurt.

    When you want to enforce the laws on the books — we will end this problem. Until then, expect it to grow….because the homeless can do what they are doing.

    Ideally, when they are arrested, that is when they are evaluated and placed in the proper facility.

    Best part is, when and if we want to enforce Laws on the books again, you will magically see most of the homeless just “DISAPPEAR”!! Yep! News travels fast in the grapevine and they will pick up and leave when we are ready to change the rules of their game. Whoever is left on the street will need to have facilities to place them in, as appropriate.

    However, some laws do need to be re-evaluated, such as picking up a mentally ill person AGAINST THEIR WILL, OR PICKING UP A PERSON LIVING ON THE STREET BECAUSE HE/SHE IS LIVING ON THE STREET! Thanks to the ACLU, that has become a problem unless you have a shelter bed to offer them. That is stupid.

    Other than that, we only need money for mental health facility/hospital, possible detox centers for those who truly want to clean up, and medical help for those who are ill. The poor have always been helped by churches and nonprofits, that certainly are plentiful today.

    Real simple solution with a clear plan…Now just do it California!

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