It is amazing how politicians respond to election-year calendars.
They don’t appear to have any problem blowing off necessary projects, constituents’ concerns, and things they deem a nuisance, for several years, but as soon as they get a year out from their re-election, things tend to start getting done at almost lightning speeds.
As COVID-19 took root in the U.S., people on the street were largely left on their own — with many cities halting sweeps of homeless camps following guidance from federal health officials.
One major issue, homelessness, has become so common in progressive cities that tourists and convention venue seekers have been forced to find other locations to spend their money.
With the mid-term elections coming up in November though, suddenly liberal cities across the country — where people living in tents in public spaces have long been tolerated.
Leaders are removing encampments and pushing other strict measures to address homelessness that would have been unheard of a few years ago.
Makeshift shelters about busy roadways, tent cities line sidewalks, tarps cover broken-down cars, and sleeping bags are tucked in storefront doorways. The reality of the homelessness crisis in Oregon’s largest city can’t be denied.
Portland’s homeless crisis has grown increasingly visible in recent years. During the area’s 2019 point-in-time count — a yearly census of sorts — an estimated 4,015 people were experiencing homelessness, with half of them “unsheltered” or sleeping outside.
The situation has affected businesses and events, with employers routinely asking officials to do more. Some are looking to move, while others already have.
Most notably, Oregon’s largest annual golf tournament, the LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic, relocated from Portland last year due to safety concerns related to a nearby homeless encampment.
Despite spending $300,000 on security and implementing a buddy system for workers to safely be outdoors, the division of the U.S. Geological Survey is looking to move.
“I would be an idiot to sit here and tell you that things are better today than they were five years ago with regard to homelessness,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said recently. “People in this city aren’t stupid. They can open their eyes.”
Wheeler has now used emergency powers to ban camping along certain roadways and says homelessness is the “most important issue facing our community, bar none.”
Last month, Portland banned camping on the sides of “high-crash” roadways. This followed a report showing 19 of 27 pedestrians killed by cars in Portland last year were homeless. People in at least 10 encampments were given 72 hours to leave. “It’s been made very clear people are dying,” Wheeler said. “So I approach this from a sense of urgency.”
In Seattle, new Mayor Bruce Harrell ran on a platform that called for action on encampments, focusing on highly visible tent cities in his first few months in office. Across from City Hall, two blocks’ worth of tents and belongings were removed Wednesday.
In California, home to more than 160,000 homeless people, cities are reshaping how they address the crisis. The Los Angeles City Council in October used new laws to ban camping in 54 locations.
It’s so bad, that Amazon is “temporarily” removing workers from downtown Seattle due to a violent crime wave.
Amazon is temporarily removing workers from one of its downtown Seattle offices so employees don’t have to travel to an area that’s seen a spate of violent crimes. https://t.co/Y91nLgjPax
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) March 12, 2022
San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in December in the crime-heavy Tenderloin neighborhood, which has been ground zero for drug dealing, overdose deaths and homelessness. She said it’s time to get aggressive and “less tolerant of all the bull— that has destroyed our city.”
In Sacramento, voters may decide on multiple proposed homeless-related ballot measures in November — including prohibiting people from storing “hazardous waste,” such as needles and feces, on public and private property, and requiring the city to create thousands of shelter beds.
Last year Austin, TX voters reinstated a ban that penalizes those who camp downtown and near the University of Texas, in addition to making it a crime to ask for money in certain areas and times.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced a plan to start barring people from sleeping on trains or riding the same lines all night. The recently elected mayor has likened homelessness to a “cancerous sore,” lending to what advocates describe as a negative and inaccurate narrative that villainizes the population.
Advocates for the homeless have denounced aggressive measures, saying the problem is being treated as a blight or a chance for cheap political gains, instead of a humanitarian crisis.
Donald H. Whitehead Jr., executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said at least 65 U.S. cities are criminalizing or sweeping encampments. “Everywhere that there is a high population of homeless people, we started to see this as their response.”
As someone who lives in California, I agree with Mr. Whitehead.
In every city with populations of 500K residents or more, in our state, you will find growing homelessness and eventually sprawling camps.
In spite of the complaints expressed by citizens during city council meetings across the state, including Fresno, the leftists on the council act more like social justice activists instead of those elected to protect the citizens in their cities.
But hey, for those expecting competitive elections in their cities/states, there will be action taken on things that can be used against the incumbents.
By: Eric Thompson, editor of Eric Thompson Show.
This story syndicated with permission from Eric Thompson, Author at Trending Politics
Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.
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