The Solution for Homelessness? Homes.

Neal Peirce says that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel in the debate over homelessness, and a consensus that stopgaps don't work. The real answer is to, duh, give them homes.

Peirce writes, "It's a myth, says [Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun] Donovan, that anyone wants to be homeless. Providing people with all manner of fragmented services–overnight shelter, substance abuse, social and mental health and emergency medical services–easily runs up massive public costs. But the sum total of all the programs is appallingly ineffective because it doesn't give the homeless a place to live."

Full Story: Homelessness in America: Finally, Glimmers of Light



Be careful what you wish for

I'm a die-hard liberal, but even I don't agree with public housing. I might add that, as the Latino descendant of the Native Americans, my family and my people know a little something about being poor, but still finding ways to put rooves over our heads. The problem with subsidized housing is that it really does lead to permanent, multigenerational dependency on government aid, namely by giving people a sense of entitlement for the kind of housing that should only come from hard work and responsible living. Why, for example, does a single parent and his or her 3 kids need a 2 or 3 bedroom home? My people made do, very nicely, thank you very much, without aid and by living in larger than "usual" numbers in housing units.

Sure, give the People free or low cost public education, public health care and 24 hour public transportation, so we can learn how to be civilized, stay healthy, get to our jobs and schools and work hard to, finally, get that beautiful home. But you give the People even free housing and where is the incentive to work?

For that matter, how will capitalism---even highly regulated---function if we give away all the goodies?

Conservatives and laissez-faire capitalists might argue against even the kind of social services I mentioned above, but they can still find much to profit from via energy, banking, weapons sales, auto sales, entertainment, clothing, electronics, and housing construction and rentals.

Start encroaching upon that last endeavor, however, and watch us return to the high rise, crime-ridden housing projects that turned much of the nation against social services, in particular, and liberalism in general.

We have different definitions of "die-hard liberal."

The column is about ending homelessness, not about permanent public housing. For me, basic shelter is a human right. If it requires public subsidies because of market failures, then so be it.
Mike Stanger

Giving away all the goodies...

Well said.


Michael Lewyn's picture

False dichotomy

The above post asks:

"Why, for example, does a single parent and his or her 3 kids need a 2 or 3 bedroom home?"

This question is the classic example of the "false dichotomy" fallacy: either we should tolerate the status quo of street people and homeless shelters, OR we have to "give away or the goodies." The reason this is a fallacy is that we could give the single parent something in between: say, a one bedroom apartment.

It seems to me that decency and public sanitation demands that people have a place to sleep and to bathe. And the notion that people have to be living in garbage dumps to have an incentive to work strikes me as a little much.

Deja vu all over again

Apparently, none of you commenters are old enough to remember the days when ugly, violent, crime-filled, grafitti-covered, gang-creating, race-segregating, inner city-destroying, public housing projects roared into existence because of well-intentioned liberals like you.

These people were, indeed, given all the goodies, and were made permanently and multigenerationally dependent upon government aid that, unlike public education, transportation and healthcare, stunted their development, rather than encouraged it.

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