Advanced Conversation with Jennifer on Homelessness in the U.S. (2)
The west coast has been hit hard by the homeless crisis. The media has given a
lot of attention to Los Angeles and Seattle in particular. Property crime in
Seattle is higher than in most other U.S. cities. People point to the correlation
between homelessness and crime. What are the numbers? In Seattle, there are about
11,000 homeless people. In LA, there are about 36,000 in the city and about
60,000 and LA county. California and the entire West Coast have seen the worst of
this problem in recent years. There are similar concerns about homelessness in
San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. But there are other regions battling
homelessness in our country. I just read about Austin, Texas, for example. I don't
have the time to share all the details of this problem, but I do want to mention
a group within the homeless population: veterans. A veteran is someone who served
in the military, and, sadly, a good number of veterans are homeless today.
Mental health issues and disabilities often contribute to their situation.
It's also sad to note that the beautiful city of Seattle now has a new nickname: Freeattle.
It's supposedly attractive to homeless people because of free services and the
lack of law enforcement in the downtown area, which some people describe as a
free-for-all, meaning you can do as you please.
The police haven't been able to enforce the law in many cases. Arrests often
don't lead to convictions. In one documentary, I heard that Seattle police
stopped issuing tickets for small acts of incivility. That means there are
things that shouldn't be done in public, but they're being done so frequently
that it's hard to stop them from happening.
Again, residents complain that officials are turning their backs on the problem or
they're throwing money at the problem. There's a need to address the causes and
stop focusing on the symptoms.
However, there is a bright spot in all of this.
There are communities with much lower populations of homeless people.
That means they're doing something right, something that could be copied by troubled cities.
These other towns and cities have community outreach programs
that offer services, inform people of services, and refer people to the places
where they can get help. Sometimes local firefighters and police officers
participate in these efforts. What more can be done? You can be sure that more
proposals will be made during election season.
We'll end here. There's a lot to think about. I invite you to post opinions in the comments,
but I ask that everyone express their ideas respectfully and with maturity.
Let's be open to hearing different views.
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