Los Angeles announced bold new plans to spend $100 million to help the estimated 26,000 homeless people who occupy the city’s streets and parklands, representing a real threat to public health and safety. This comes to less than $4,000 per person—hardly enough to fix a broken life.
L.A.’s homeless problem is clearly a crisis, but the liberal instinct to throw money at every problem never works: six years ago the Obama administration pledged to end homelessness among veterans within 5 years, but the problem remains as bad as ever—despite federal spending on homeless programs that has swelled to $5 billion a year. Two essential elements are missing from such folly: a clear recognition that most homeless people are substance abusers, mentally ill or both, needing aggressive psychiatric attention and a clear declaration that no one has a right to camp on sidewalks or parks.
Programs that make it easier to continue living on the streets will do more harm than good.