Decades ago in 1949 the U.S. federal government guaranteed a right to housing in the U.S. Housing Act that promises “a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family ….” (1). The right to decent housing is part of the New York state Constitution, part of the constitutions of 69 countries, promoted by the U.N. General Assembly, and included in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How do some countries help the homeless? In Hong Kong after a major fire in 1953 destroyed the shacks for 50,000 refugees leaving them homeless, that city began building public housing on a massive scale.
In contrast, during Garcetti’s first term he supposedly spent $100 million a year on homelessness, but $80 million went to policing and only a mere $20 million on helping 34,000 homeless people. U.N. monitor on extreme poverty Phillip Alston said that LA is “lagging behind other cities in attacking its homelessness problem” (2). Alston criticized Garcetti’s excessive use of criminalization to “conceal” the homeless saying that the LAPD arrested 7,000 people on Skid Row from 2011-2016. He criticized the LAPD giving misdemeanors for panhandling, sitting in public places, or urinating for people who lack toilets that turn into “warrants, jailings, and ‘unpayable’ fines” and then criminal convictions which prevent “subsequent employment and access to most housing.” Also in street sweeps city workers throw away homeless belongings like IDs and computers making it more difficult for the homeless to get jobs.