Governments war on private solutions to local problems
Does government have a war on private solutions? I know this question sounds absurd, but give me chance to explain. In our ongoing series, we continue to expose local governments insistence that they have a monopoly on helping the poorest among us, the homeless. The first story we looked at was the Kansas City Health Department, and their decision to throw away hundreds of pounds of BBQ all because their guidelines weren't followed. Hungry people literally starved in that instance. Don't worry, because people were kept safe. Right?
They continue to fine private citizens for feeding the homeless without a permit or not sticking to certain menu requirements. Government would rather you starve then eat something they don't approve of. This amounts to a war on private solutions for everyday problems in our local communities. Government's never ending crusade is to become the arbiter of all things to all people.
In the latest episode in our series, we focus on the city of LA. In this video, we discuss a new report from Reason.com. The report is about Elvis Summers, a local artist, and his struggle to build tiny homes for the homeless of California. This man had to face off against the city of LA who considered these tiny homes to be an eyesore, amongst other things. Mr. Summers raised over 100k from private donations to build the tiny communities on private land that was donated. The homes cost just $1,200 dollars each to produce.
The city had a problem with this private solution. On the day they launched their own billion dollar initiative, they sent city workers to seize Summer's tiny homes. Summers was able to save only 3 of the homes but he had to evict several people leaving them homless all over again. The city councilmen over the district almost seemed indignant that the homeless would even want to occupy these dwellings and even referred to them as "shacks." Summers admits this isn't a permanent solution but to characterize them as some sort of far fetched solution is out of bounds. Tiny homes for the homeless are being used to help the wave of homelessness in other majors cities with success.
Ways government has been anti homeless
Not only has government been hostile to private solutions, local governments have been hostile to the homeless, from the way they design there cities to the laws they enact. The number one solution that some cities have pressed for is to punish the homeless.
Top Ten Anti Homeless measures used in the United States
The Shanty Towns of America (Photo documentary of homeless communities in America)
Tiny Home Seized By City: Reason.com full video
Writing about this Reason.com said:
Each night, tens of thousands of people sleep in tent cities crowding the palm-lined boulevards of Los Angeles, far more than any other city in the nation. The homeless population in the entertainment capital of the world has hit new record highs in each of the past few years.But a 39-year-old struggling musician from South LA thought he had a creative fix.
Elvis Summers, who went through stretches of homelessness himself in his 20s, raised over $100,000 through crowdfunding campaigns last spring. With the help of professional contractors and others in the community who sign up to volunteer through his nonprofit, Starting Human, he has built dozens of solar-powered, tiny houses to shelter the homeless since.Summers says that the houses are meant to be a temporary solution that, unlike a tent, provides the secure foundation residents need to improve their lives.
"The tiny houses provide immediate shelter," he explains. "People can lock their stuff up and know that when they come back from their drug treatment program or court or finding a job all day, their stuff is where they left it."Each house features a solar power system, a steel-reinforced door, a camping toilet, a smoke detector, and even window alarms. The tiny structures cost Summers roughly $1,200 apiece to build.LA city officials, however, had a different plan to address the crisis. A decade after the city's first 10-year plan to end homelessness withered in 2006,
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in February a $1.87 billion proposal to get all LA residents off the streets, once and for all. He and the City Council aim to build 10,000 units of permanent housing with supportive services over the next decade. In the interim, they are shifting funds away from temporary and emergency shelters.Councilmember Curren Price, who represents the district where Summers's tiny houses were located, does not believe they are beneficial either to the community or to the homeless people housed in them. "I don't really want to call them houses. They're really just boxes," says Price. "They're not safe, and they impose real hazards for neighbors in the community."
Tiny home community in Austin Texas
A community of tiny homes was built for the homeless in Austin Texas. Private companies and volunteers created community first village. Not only do they house homeless they provide them with much needed services on sight. They also run food trucks that roam the streets of Austin feeding people.
The answer isn't billion dollar boondoggles. The answer is people like Summers and Community first. For too long, Conservatives and Libertarians have taken the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" approach as a reaction to the liberal welfare state. This attitude may be an overreaction because that sentiment, in my opinion, is a heartless approach. We have to help each other without the need for more government and by supporting causes like this.
At the end of the day this is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution. Telling people to pull up their bootstraps isn't a solution, and creating the mindset of government entitlement and dependency isn't the solution either. This isn't even about tiny homes. It's about communities coming to the realization that they, themselves, are the answer, not the government.