Being homeless because you can’t afford to live in the community you work in is one thing, moving to a community that you can’t afford is another. The latter is at the core of the so-called homeless crisis, yet few in authority will admit it. It appears the progressives running this state are as oblivious about who they are trying to help as they are how to go about it. Therefor they keep failing to find a solution.
The homeless population is a composite of many social problems. However, the vast majority of homeless can be found in 4 groups or divisions, the mentally ill, the addicts, the dropouts and the disabled.
In the first category, (mentally ill) we find a large percentage who can’t make wise choices and really need to be in a mandatory care facility. They represent about 15-20% of the homeless population. This is a significant number, but it’s manageable from a custodial perspective. And at least they would have a [chance] at rehabilitation in custody, but living on the street they have zero chance.
Next, those with substance abuse issues, i.e., alcohol or drugs, make up about 25% of the total. The addicted are headed for the mentally-ill group unless they get some sort of public forced rehab. As it is, they spend their days trying to score booze or drugs, mostly through a host of criminal activities, that includes, but is not limit too, theft, prostitution and robbery. This group has little or no concern about the damage they do to themselves or to the community, it’s only about staying high and that’s why they need forced rehab.
The above are not necessarily true predators by nature, but they behave that way to satisfy their addiction and so I lumped them in with the criminal group because their criminal behaviors are similar. The non-addict, habitual offenders/predators, are a serious problem because they attracted to areas with high concentrations of homeless encampments. Homeless on the street and in encampments provides them with cover as they blend in. Additionally, there is generally abundant charity they can take and this helps subsidize their criminal behavior.
This whole group, from the addicts to predators, has a high rate of recidivism and they cost us countless millions in property damage and tax dollars while clogging the criminal justice system. They consume the most public money and our efforts to place them in affordable housing or work training has to date been a costly and pointless effort. Lock-up (prison farms) and the opportunity for rehab is about the only viable answer.
The next group are the homeless that are either temporary travelers by choice or they don’t want make the changes necessary in their lives to be… not homeless. Or due to age or disability they simply can’t be self supporting. Vagrancy laws have worked well on the travelers and those just gaming the system for a time. However, for the truly infirm and elderly, they require public assistance as found in our traditional safety nets, low income housing, food stamps, etc., this is a shared burden to be shared by all the states, not just CA, Ore and WA.
Of course there are many other sub-groups and combinations thereof that have not been mentioned for the sake of brevity (otherwise I would be writing a book). However, simply identifying the major categories of homeless is a good first step towards finding a remedy. And speaking of a remedy, two things that are already obvious. There will be no one size fits all solution and no one state should be burdened to care for more than their fair share, according to their population.