A short video of the homeless shanty town that has overtaken the Venice Beach library

Originally published at: A short video of the homeless shanty town that has overtaken the Venice Beach library | Boing Boing


Surprised there haven’t been more comparisons of our current unfair polarized economy to the 1930s and Hoovervilles. Seattle, for example, had many of these (“eight” it says) and lo’, they’re rebuilding them, only with tents and RVs as a nod toward modernity(??). The solution then could be the solution now, Roosevelt-ian new deals (and hopefully not a subsequent war effort). Yes, there were the beginnings of that via the Build Back Better infrastructure initiatives, but then that bold effort hit the Manchin/Sinema moat protecting the @#$ filibuster; and now the midterms loom -sigh-
(to quote Nicholson’s Joker: This Senate needs an enema)


The projected California state budget surplus for 2022 is an astounding $97 billion. The last official statewide count of the homeless population is about 161,000. If we dedicated 50% of this year’s budget surplus to solving homelessness that would allow us to spend about $300,000 per homeless person. Seems like lack of resources isn’t the issue. We just need to find the political will and also spend the money on programs that are actually effective in getting people housed and provide services, rather than some of the rather wasteful programs we’ve got going now where we somehow manage to spend $3,300 a month per-person housing them in “tiny home” garden-shed style shelters with no kitchens or plumbing, which is more than the median mortgage payment.


Eat the rich


This makes me wonder about how financial resources are allocated in other states, but the underlying problem is political will. What makes the news most often is new legislation criminalizing camping and homelessness, like this story:

Instead of putting more effort into helping people, GOP pols are using them to feed the prison system and keep them in a cycle of poverty. The cruelty continues, with help from groups like this:


“a small park of human tragedy”

just needs a few rides among the tents – the educaton tilt-a-wheel, career roller coaster, social services merry-go-round, endless downward slide…

and of course the barking carnies hustling everybody to play the unwinnable game.


I think that’s a bit of a mirage though, and a fair bit of that should be kept in reserve. Not that some couldn’t be used for the homeless, but I expect between wildfires and water shortages keeping California liveable for anyone at all is going to get unbelievably expensive.

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Agreed, some of the outright criminalization of homelessness happening in places like Tennessee is absolutely unconscionable. But in California it seems to largely be a combination of NIMBYism and inefficient spending rather than lack of resources and bad intentions on the part of our elected officials. We’ve got to get our act together. And some of the proposals that Newsom is putting out there raise serious civil liberties issues. (Specifically, forcing unhoused people into treatment or conservatorship whether they want it or not.)


In my hypothetical example I said 50%. But even just 15% is nearly $100k per unhoused person. And that’s on top of what we already spend in the existing budget. The point is that we’re a wealthy state and the financial resources to address the problem exist.


As far as I understand it the American solution to problems is arming people. So ARM THE HOMELESS! Give a homeless person a AK-47 or equivalent and 1000 rounds of ammunition.


The most cost-effective solution all around would be to just provide all homeless people with free apartments but of course that’s a non-starter because so many people get enraged by the idea of poor people getting free stuff. That’s why Americans would rather pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to provide ER services to a homeless drug addict than pay a few hundred bucks a month to provide that person with preventative care that would keep them out of the ER entirely.


For the “just give them empty apartments” crowd, it’s sadly not always that simple. Some homeless people need some shelter and time to get themselves together. Some need constant social services to help them navigate our needlessly cruel and complicated safety net. Others need medical care and mental health care. All of them need security. This is what makes it expensive. Some fraction of the unhoused (~10%?) will never be able to be “fixed” – they will refuse meds, get into fights, and cycle in and out of ERs and prisons, shelters and encampments.

Remember, Bonin is not running for re-election in part because he is perceived (rightly, I think) as having let the homeless issue metastasize in Venice. He either couldn’t do anything about it or felt that the kindest thing was not doing anything about it. Either way, voters in the district loathe him. I’m not a Venetian, but I live in West LA and know a lot of people there. By the way, these are lefty liberal Democrats who hate him.

Once it is decided to provide shelter, the profiteers come in, like Caruso. Remember, once the city provides X number of beds, they get to roust X number of homeless. If the beds are in an old-fashioned dorm-style shelter, with minimal services, homeless will not want to go there because it will be dangerous and disease-ridden. But once there’s a bed, they can be moved. It’s their choice to take that dangerous bed and the risks along with it, or move out of Venice. The voters of Venice will be relieved either way.

The temptation is for a Real Estate mogul to build or repurpose a high-rise, hire a few security guards and maybe a few social workers (maybe not even that!), dust off their hands, declare victory, and stage a parade for themself. That has the virtues of (a) enriching whichever real estate baron can funnel gov’t money into their pocket to do that and (b) concentrates the unhoused in a single location, thus pleasing the most voters. A solution that helps the most unhoused in a constructive way would be many small shelters with maybe a dozen or so apartments (could be repurposed motels, etc.), along with the medical, social, and security services required.

That is (a) more expensive, and (b) pisses off a lot of voters in whose neighborhoods these shelters would be. Also, it doesn’t make any rich dudes much richer, so they will use their extensive influence to fight it.


There is a parking lot a few blocks away that could be converted to a safe camping and parking site, but it seems there is a lot of controversy about that too.

It’s not going to happen. A lot of NIMBYs in West L.A. would rather complain about this disgrace day in and day out than they would allow a tiny home village or safe and organised encampment site or any other Housing First project in their neighbourhoods or districts.* They can indulge in the fantasy that the shantytowns and tents will somehow be swept away by a strongman politician or by an improving economy or some other magic, but a tiny home village or a motel conversion has the air of city- or county-approved permanence that they won’t countenance.

A lot of them are just as opposed to high-density or missing-middle housing for people who can afford to pay the rent being built in their neighbourhoods. The opposition is couched in terms of “preserving neighbourhood character”, but it’s always about preserving and inflating the financial value of the single-family home (which for many people represents the sum total of their retirement assets).

The only thing I’ve seen the NIMBYs in L.A. budge on recently are Accessory/Auxilliary Dwelling Units. I suspect there’s a lot of unspoken self-interest at work there as the elderly parents and adult children they support find housing unaffordable and/or as the homeowners themselves struggle to pay the mortgage.

[* I don’t blame them for not wanting old-style shelters or Skid-Row style containment zones, because both approaches are failures on all levels.]

And 100% of those problems are much, much simpler to solve if the people in question have a fixed address where they actually get to sleep indoors.

Any way you approach the problem it has to start with providing homeless people with a place to live.


It’s called “Housing First”, not “Housing and Ok We’re Done”.


Exactly. Just like giving a hungry person food won’t solve all of their problems but it will damn well keep them from starving to death, and that’s a pretty good place to start.


No, thanks. All that pointless greed has left them with a bitter aftertaste.


Eat the rich, but marinate them well, and keep antacid handy.


Anything better would be “unfair” to normal people

The finest most luxurious homeless camp or shelter has to be shittier than the shittiest market-rate house or apartment


As others have said, it’s the first step. It’s also the evidence-based solution. Housing First works:

This is also yet another example of America saying “Nothing can solve this!” while other countries say, “Hey actually this works well. We’ve been doing it for decades and are on phase 2 now”:

At least 15 cities in Canada are now doing Housing First programs and it works