As though homeless people don’t already own so few possessions, the city of Los Angeles just passed a law saying that the amount of things a homeless person can own must fit inside of a trashcan. They even have size dimensions for the trashcan, noting that the items must fit in a 60-gallon trashcan and the lid must close over it.
The new law allows police to even confiscate tents that are still standing on public property during daylight hours. Taking away a homeless person’s shelter is not constructive, and in fact only makes them feel less secure in a time when they need a solid foundation to get back on their feet.
This law is in response to LA’s homeless epidemic, which has been on the rise recently, with an increase in 20% over just the last two years.
These misguided approaches to homelessness have only served to increase the amount of homeless people in the city and make their quality of life that much worse. Homelessness is an issue that stems from greed and a disregard for the root causes of poverty, as many people that are homeless cannot afford housing first and foremost because rent is too high. As cities look the other way while buildings increase their rent prices, more people are evicted and end up on the streets. The only real solution for homelessness is to give people homes.
Initiatives have begun in other U.S. and international cities, such as Canada, that are attempting to reduce the amount of homeless people by first giving them homes and subsequently working with them to determine the best approach for getting them back on their feet. These programs offer a range of services, such as rehabilitation for drug addictions, therapy, and connections to job opportunities. It’s programs like these that constructively help to end homelessness and poverty, not laws that try to restrict homeless people even more.
Of course, cities could first assist by at least not taking away homes or apartments that are affordable by restricting developers from stripping away rent-controlled apartments, but the city makes more in revenue from high-priced living spaces and the people that occupy them. Just last year, 1000 rent-controlled apartments were taken off the market, triple the decline in 2013. One developer, Wiseman Residential, has single-handedly evicted 237 tenants from rent-controlled apartments in the last decade.
Homelessness cannot be solved by disincentivizing being homeless, as there are root causes of poverty and homelessness that are being ignored and the majority of homeless people do not choose to live this way. Limiting their own belongings only strips them further of their individuality, one of the few things left as they live on the streets.
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