Trump's Final Homeless Solution Will Be TERRIFIC, By Which We Mean Terrifying.
Policy ideas from Soylent Green seldom work out well.
"I'm glad I'm living in the land of the free / Where the rich just get richer / And the poor you don't ever have to see" -- Randy Newman, "The World Isn't Fair"
Donald Trump has reportedly been demanding that the federal government clear out all the homeless people in California -- not because he's particularly concerned about homelessness nationwide, but because 1) Fox News has been harping on homeless people in California for the last few months and B) bashing California gets his rally crowds worked up. And that is how policy in the USA gets made these days. Yes, really; the Washington Post's initial story Tuesday on Trump's suddenly discovered need to clean up homelessness makes that quite clear:
Fox News has aired at least 18 segments on California homelessness in 2019, according to a review of Fox closed-captioning transcripts. None of the segments aired before June, and 10 aired in August alone.
We deeply appreciate the explanatory coda to that paragraph: "Trump is known to absorb content and ideas from Fox News." Which is why the Great Man's minions are now preparing to put on a show of doing something, anything, that can be seen on video to satisfy him. No, actually funding housing and programs that would keep people from becoming homeless is not visually interesting enough. Something along these lines would be a lot more exciting. Could we try this please?
Soylent Green. Bucket detain www.youtube.com
Then we could replace WIC and SNAP benefits with monthly shipments of Soylent products. They're packed with protein and shelf-stable!
But because Fox has him all worked up, and what gets the "president" all worked up gets the Base all worked up, Trump aides are now scrambling to make him happy by coming up with a plan that would meet Trump's demand to find out "how the hell we can get these people off the streets," as one "senior administration official" put it. It doesn't need to be a solution, it just needs to look like a solution.
In pursuit of that goal, a team of officials from a whole bunch of cabinet departments took a quick tour Tuesday of Los Angeles-area programs that work with the homeless, as well as looking at an empty Federal Aviation Administration facility that might be converted into a shelter, or maybe a jail. A jail would be good! Trump is expected to travel to California next week, and some White House sources are saying the Great Man wants to use the trip to launch an initiative to clean up the state's homeless camps, which contain not real people with complex problems, but a smelly mass of unsightly examples of why Democratic leadership inevitably fails.
Opinion in the White House is, to say the least, not yet unanimous, says WaPo:
Some administration officials expressed skepticism that the federal government wanted to get in the business of operating a large homeless shelter in Los Angeles. There were also questions about the feasibility of turning the FAA facility into a shelter and how it could legally be done.
One administration official with knowledge of Trump's visit to California said there were discussions about a homelessness announcement next week.
Senior administration officials said that forcing people into new facilities was not under consideration, with one official telling The Washington Post: "We're not rounding people up or anything yet. You guys in the media get too ahead of yourselves."
But the likely action -- whatever it is will be half-assed, poorly thought out, and probably in violation of federal court decisions -- was important enough to involve a junket by "members of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Justice Department." And of course the action will be taken without any coordination with state or local officials, who are worthless because they're a bunch of Democrats who think "housing" or "mental illness" or "poverty" have something to do with why people are homeless. What's really needed is toughness, which would solve all the problems in the world.
California and LA government officials had initially thought the feds were touring to learn about the problem, and were "blindsided" by the talk of razing homeless encampments and stuffing people into a government building of some kind.
"They were very cagey with us about what they were doing," said a Los Angeles city official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. "Our only understanding from them coming into this was they wanted to poke around and learn more about what we were doing out here. All this stuff about cracking down and sweeping people out of skid row was a total surprise to us."
See? They don't understand toughness. The Trumpenjunket also met with the LA police union to kick around ideas for arresting the homeless and concentrating them somewhere they could get showers and maybe some social services, or at least be out of sight of respectable people.
The LA Times reports the feds were especially interested in neat devices that could be put quickly into place, according to Rev. Andy Bales, who runs the Union Rescue Mission and showed the tour around the skid row area.
Bales said the officials took particular interest in mobile bathrooms that have been set up and spoke with attendants who manage them.
Bales said the group asked him about "sprung structures," massive, rigid tents that can be set up quickly to provide shelter. They can be heated and air-conditioned, and the Union Rescue Mission has one in the works in its parking lot for 120 women.
"It really is an immediate answer," Bales said. "They are here to bring resources to assist the city and county and state in addressing homelessness. I believe they were sincere individuals."
Is Rev. Bales that easily fooled, or trying to put a strategic positive spin on anything that might provide even some temporary relief in an incredibly complex crisis that isn't amenable to TV-friendly remedies? We're inclined to think well of people who help, so we're going with strategic.
Not that Team Trump is interested in actually addressing people's problems, but there are California leaders who have some real ideas about that. The LA Times noted that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Gavin Newsom "put out statements listing steps they said the administration could take right away if it truly intended to help solve the crisis." WaPo interviewed Michael McConnell, a San Diego homeless advocate who warns that most of the arrest-everyone ideas he's heard discussed would be flat out illegal, and wouldn't do a thing to decrease homelessness. San Diego's Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has tried opening great big tents to concentrate homeless people in, but McConnell noted a census of homeless people that found an increase in the homeless population:
McConnell said the city continues to rely on methods that "criminalize" homelessness. The city's tactic of issuing public nuisance tickets and fines has not led to a decrease in the homeless population, as the recent census showed, but pushed them into more remote parts of the city.
"We invest a lot in the front end — storage for homeless belongings, safe-parking areas, tents — but we're not increasing funds at the back end to get people out of these beds and into housing," McConnell said. "I hope Trump isn't looking at us as a model. The example we are is how to hide homeless people."
Count on it: That's going to be the "solution," and the rally crowds will cheer. There don't appear to be any Trump administration plans to meet with any of the local officials or experts to get their input, and again, why would Team Trump want to talk to them? They'd just blather on about stuff like low-income housing, boosting mental health treatment, and not slashing food assistance programs, and that shit's expensive -- plus, that would all take time, and there'd still be some scruffy-looking people out on the street.
We'll give the last word to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who actually does give two shits about the people who are homeless, instead of treating them as unsightly refuse that needs to be disposed of. Steinberg tells WaPo,
"I am wary because every time this president does anything involving people who are vulnerable, they are the ones who get hurt," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (D), who is chairman of the state Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing . "And yet, that being said, we have an obligation to better understand if there are federal resources out there to help address California's homeless problem" [...]
Steinberg said that a member of the homeless task force accurately summarized the politics around homelessness by saying, "The only thing people oppose more than homelessness are the solutions to homelessness."
"The opposition to many of these projects and initiatives is real, but it is our job to forge through this," he said. "People have to realize the problem is already in their backyard."
That sounds awfully complicated. Bulldozing some homeless camps would be far faster, and would look GREAT on Fox News. Then the homeless could go be somebody else's problem.
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