The state of California is spending us into oblivion to end homelessness.
To be exact, the state is set to spend some $12 billion over a two-year cycle — the largest investment in state history. Most of the money is aimed at various types of housing projects, including buying motels and hotels, and converting them to housing, along with the conversion of empty retail spaces, and erecting a slew of mini houses that are not much bigger than a backyard storage shed.
Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County has set aside some $90 million to move people into some sort of housing, even if it is just a hut, and to offer various services the homeless are free to reject!
Will any of this work? In Santa Barbara County, as it turns out, the more services they offer the homeless, the number of homeless seems to only increase. How could this be?
We need to realize that upward of 50% of all homeless people are formerly incarcerated people. California has been emptying our state prisons for more than a decade, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to release another 70,000 prisoners to our streets, including 20,000 people that were serving life sentences. That explains how this problem is only going to get bigger and much worse.
The ugly truth? Whereas some people are simply poor and homeless through no fault of their own, the vast majority of the people living on the streets belong in some type of institution because of their inability or unwillingness to live in a civil society. We closed nearly all mental institutions decades ago, and now we are emptying and closing our prisons. Is it any wonder why our streets are filled with criminals, scoundrels, addicts and derelicts?
Unfortunately, society is paying a much higher price than most are willing to admit for this modern-day phenomenon.
That price includes criminal acts against people, including brutal murders, because some of these mentally ill people are ticking time bombs.
Other crimes are committed against properties. Just ask any business owner, including business owners on State Street in Santa Barbara and farmers in the Santa Maria Valley about the damage done to their property. But by far the most constant crime against business has to do with the theft of billions of dollars’ worth of inventory and equipment that is putting some businesses out of business, including scores of retail shops.
Years ago, I was a volunteer in the county probation department. The caseload I helped work on included dozens of drug addicts and alcoholics who lived a life of crime to fund their bad habits. Since then, the California Legislature has handed every single one of these criminals an official laminated free get-out-of-jail card, meaning they can continuously steal upward of $950 per robbery and absolutely nothing is going to happen to them.
Thereby, California has become a thief’s paradise.
How bad is this problem? We recently discussed a phenomenal article by James Walsh in Curbed on my radio show on KZSB-AM 1290, the News-Press radio station. The article detailed the fact that the Prosecutors Alliance of California estimated that $500 billion worth of stolen or counterfeit goods changes hands online annually! Of course, not all these goods are stolen by the homeless, as there are organized theft rings contributing to the demise of our once civil society. But most of the thieves highlighted in the story were addicts and/or unhoused.
It is kind of ironic, isn’t it? The homeless people who rob a retail establishment blind until it goes out of business are then offered a place to stay after the retail establishment is converted to a lodging facility for the homeless!
It reminds me of the saying that socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.