The good folks of Manteca, CA, city council decided the easy life of homeless people should be made a little less appealing, so they unanimously passed two ordinances to drive that message home, as it were.
One of the new laws declares it is illegal to construct or occupy homeless encampments on any street, in any park, or any public or private property. That includes any transient shelter, non-city designated cooking areas (such as open fires), and sanitary facilities for disposal of human waste such as porta-potties.
Offenders will not be arrested or fined, but police will destroy any makeshift homeless shelters as soon as they appear, with or without the consent of private property owners. The ordinance states this is to prevent negative impacts on public property by interfering with its intended uses.
The second ordinance forbids any public urination or defecation. The city made this one a challenge round for the homeless by closing the public restroom facilities in a park.
Police Chief Nick Obligacion, who is opposed to sanctioned homeless shelters, explained why the ordinances were necessary.
“The goal is actually to correct the wrong. So, if the correction is them leaving Manteca, then that’s their choice.”
It seems the goal is to drive the undesirable elements of the population from their fair city.
Manteca is just one of many municipalities seeking ways to sweep the problem of homelessness under the rug. A whopping 34 percent of cities have banned public camping, a 60 percent rise from just three years ago. Palo Alto, CA, denies residents the right to sleep in public. In Fort Lauderdale, FL, no one can lie down or have possessions on them, and in Honolulu, HI, don’t even think about sitting on the sidewalk.
In Columbia, SC, good Samaritans are allowed to feed the homeless, if they pay the fees for a permit to do so. In 13 cities it is downright illegal to feed the homeless, as two ministers and a 90-year-old chef discovered when they were arrested last week.
Cities such as Waikiki, HI, and San Diego, CA, don’t want to see poor homeless people suffer; they are given a one-way plane or bus ticket to do it somewhere else.
Taking a more positive approach, places like Salt Lake City, UT, and Phoenix, AZ, have effectively thwarted homelessness among veterans by providing homes first, and then addressing secondary issues such as mental illness, unemployment or addiction.
The contemporary homeless situation is a result of the Reagan Administration, which slashed federal funding for housing assistance in the 1980s, and the cuts have compounded in subsequent presidencies. Last year 70,000 fewer families were given housing vouchers compared to the previous year.
Instead and of making criminals of the unfortunate, providing adequate assistance and low-cost housing could effectively eliminate homelessness once for all.
Or we can just shuffle these nuisance vagrants on a bus to the next town. Then it will be their problem.