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There is a huge rise in the number of homeless people in our country. But we aren’t supposed address it or even take it seriously. In this era of forced tolerance and unaccountability, we are supposed to act like homelessness is nobody’s fault.
Well, that’s nonsense. The number of homeless people is directly connected to the number of evictions. The increase in evictions is directly connected to the rise in rents. And sky-high rents is the policy choice of rich people who run America’s cities.
First there was white flight to the suburbs after WWII. This left cities uncared for and unsafe but full of low-rent apartments. When the rich grandchildren of those first suburbanites moved back to the cities, apartment prices skyrocketed.
But it wasn’t just supply and demand. City elites were working to gentrify neighborhoods. With strict building codes and “not in my neighborhood” fanaticism, rich city people prevented low income apartment complexes from being built.
The inevitable result was that non-rich city residents couldn’t pay their rent anymore. Many couldn’t find new places to live and ended up on the street.
The people who run San Francisco and Los Angeles would rather see non-rich and non-white people on the street than sharing their communities and their schools.
In “United States of Tents,” Dennis Michael Lynch tells the story of the forgotten homeless.
Lynch’s first task is to show us that homeless people are regular Americans like us.
Lynch introduces us to a diverse group of homeless people. There are men and women who work every day. We meet a Hawaiian homeless lady who now earns too much to get Food Stamps but still can’t afford an apartment.
There are women with children who were evicted from their homes. Lynch shows us a makeshift homeless community of over 100 tents where the community leaders work together to make sure all the neighborhood kids go to school and have a quiet tent devoted to reading.
The federal government and rich cities try to feel good about themselves by tossing billions of dollars at the homeless problem. But Dennis Michael Lynch and I agree that there is only one real solution: build affordable housing.
Lynch shows us two new neighborhoods of tiny houses that were built and given away to homeless people. And that’s a great solution for places with a lot of cheap land and not too many homeless.
In cities, we need to get real and force the rich elites to accept change they don’t like.
Every upscale neighborhood in every city should be forced to build a large complex full of small, substandard apartments that cost $200 per month. The reason they have to be substandard is because if the cheap apartments were nice, rich people would move in to keep the homeless out.
Affordable housing will end the incredibly sad man-made plague of working homeless in America.
Just as important, it will force the arrogant elites who run our country to do what they hate the most: interact as neighbors and equals with people who don’t live inside their bubble of privilege.
Mass homelessness is their fault. And they need to pay for it with more than just money.