West Coast in Crisis

Reporting by Casey Clarke, FOX News Channel

The West coast is suffering from a homelessness issue of epic proportions. In Los Angeles alone, homelessness grew 26% from 2016 to 2017. Encampments are on the rise and poverty runs rampant with little solutions short of big government and big spending. Advocates have proposed everything from tiny house communities to basic universal income—a desire of some progressives to give constituents a set income regardless of their ability to work. Meanwhile, constituents are accusing West Coast politicians of having misguided priorities and issuing bad policies.

In L.A. County, the “big government” option has been exhausted—taxpayer dollars have been rolled out with little effect. And yet, they are still underfunded. Due to miscalculation, the $73 million that was funneled to address homelessness was only a third of the amount needed, experts say. In Orange County, there are homeless camps accommodating 500 people at a time. The situation is so dire the government is handing out motel vouchers. 

Making the optics worse, California politician Nancy Pelosi, who ranks among the richest members of Congress and often lectures about the perils of economic disparities, is calling $1,000 bonuses “crumbs,” and the GOP tax bill “unpatriotic.”  Many top Democrats have distanced themselves from Pelosi’s “crumbs” comment,  calling them “out of touch."

Another California politician, Senator Kamala Harris is under fire amid a worsening homeless problem. Last week, she endorsed illegals getting financial aid in a tweet; she also lamented the decline in applicants this year, blaming President Trump. Republican pundits such as Ben Shapiro have called out Harris for prioritizing illegals over citizens, especially with a backdrop of sheer poverty affecting her constituents. On Fox & Friends, Shapiro said “Obviously most of the homeless people in California are not illegal immigrants, but those people obviously could use resources that the state is not providing…But it shows once again that for Democrats, there's an actual look to make illegal immigration more prominent.”

However, this is hardly a controversial idea in a sanctuary state. Governor Jerry Brown's own budget includes an extra $15 million to help undocumented individuals evade deportation. California roughly spends $23 billion on illegals on a yearly basis.  To welcome immigrants is an American narrative, but financing them has costs that may prove burdensome at a time when homelessness is so dire. 

A discussion needs to take place on both sides of the aisle. Both parties must choose where their priorities lie. For now, the West Coast is still in need of solutions and politicians that deliver beyond talking points. Political discord and grandstanding have yet to deliver solutions to the homeless problem, putting many at risk.