More than half a million people are living in the streets of the United States. one-quarter of them are in California. The 'homeless' camps became a crisis for the state. Now is Donald Trump willing to "help," but is his solution good for the problem?
"It can happen to anyone," says Shawn Pleasants. A little over ten years ago he worked on Wall Street; He was a successful scholarship student and graduated from Yale University. Today he lives on the streets in Los Angeles (California).
Within the thousands of people who live today without a roof on the American streets, there are, as Pleasants says, musicians, photographers and professionals with successful careers as well. Souls that at one time had everything and today are in disgrace. And no, drugs are not the reason for their problem, much less mental problems or migration. It is the shortage of affordable housing for citizens. A problem that has already been experienced in the country (2008), but that is about to become an epidemic again.
A study by Zillow, a leader in the real estate market, found that concentrations of homeless people grow more in places with less accessible rental housing markets for the middle class, such as New York, San Francisco or Washington DC. Although the US economy is booming and unemployment figures are at an all time low in decades, the federal government's cuts to affordable housing programs have contributed to the problem.
“Having no shelter is scary, humiliating and insulating. People who live without shelter lack access to bathrooms, toilets and showers. They have no way of storing or preparing food and have no protection against the elements. Hunger is common, ”wrote Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California. “Being in makeshift beds or on the floor, they sleep little. They must deal with the theft of their possessions. They face frequent forced movements that disrupt relationships and make it difficult for family, friends or service providers to find them, ”he adds. In addition, people who do not have shelter have a high risk of physical and sexual abuse, and have trouble accessing medications or hospital appointments.
The deaths of homeless people in Los Angeles County are at an accelerated pace, which has already broken records. On average, almost three people die a day. During the year, according to preliminary figures from the county coroner's office, more than 1,000 deaths have been recorded in Los Angeles. Although this county has a much friendlier weather than that of New York, only 292 deaths have been recorded in that city; less than a third of those in Los Angeles. Among the main causes are illnesses, addiction, accidents, isolation, suicide, and, of course, the problems of not having shelter. They die in the same places they live: on sidewalks, lakes, tents, parks, cars and motels. “In a region of abundant wealth and world-class hospitals, Los Angeles Times .
President Donald Trump visited California last September to address this and other problems - in addition to seeking funds for his re-election campaign. But the president's responses seem not to be welcomed by the liberals, and quite rightly, experts say.
The president complained about the crisis and said that these people “live on the best roads, the best streets, the best entrances to buildings where people pay huge taxes,” so he suggested that “police surveillance can be an important tool. to help take people from the street to shelters or homes where they can get the services they need. ” The White House published a report before Trump's visit to California in which it is said that law enforcement can play an important role in resolving the crisis. “Of course, policies aimed exclusively at arresting or imprisoning the homeless simply because they have no home are inhuman and incorrect.
Opponents of this measure say that criminalizing people living in street will not solve the crisis. Instead, increasing funds for housing and related services instead of reducing them, as Trump has done, could have a positive effect. "This approach contributes to the problem instead of solving it," said Osha Neumann, a civil rights lawyer. "The idea that we can criminalize our way out of a crisis that is the result of the system's failure to meet the basic human needs of a large percentage of our population is ridiculous."
Trump is a contradiction. While threatening to punish San Francisco for the homeless crisis, he rejects the request of the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to provide housing vouchers to help combat the crisis. “In California, state and local governments have stepped up measures to get families out of poverty by investing in mental health, affordable housing and other programs for the homeless. In contrast, its Administration has proposed significant cuts to public housing and programs such as the Community Development Grant in Block, ”state legislators wrote.
Pleasants continues to live in the street with his partner, a man equally helpless to him. He warns that forcing homeless people to enter a shelter that is probably located in a very remote area "is not a solution," because that will not connect people with jobs, homes, mental health services and addictions treatment. " And more importantly, placing thousands of people in a giant building will not give them a home if there is no place for them to live permanently that they can afford, ”he added.