The Los Angeles Times has posed a question that may haunt Mayor Eric Garcetti’s presidential ambitions: “How can a city with 58,000 homeless people continue to function?”
That question, presented in an editorial on Thursday that is part of a series on homelessness, presents uncomfortable facts about the city’s failure to stop a problem that Garcetti once called “our top priority.”
The editorial reads, in part:
Homelessness affects the lives of all Angelenos, not just those forced to live on the streets. And it does so almost daily, in ways large and small.
As homelessness spreads across Los Angeles County — the official tally shows a 46% increase from 2013 to 2017 — it is drawing two conflicting responses, at times from the same people. There’s sympathy and a desire to help, but there’s also a sense of being invaded and perhaps even endangered — in terms of both physical safety and public health (see, for example, the state of emergency California declared last year over a hepatitis A outbreak that spread among the homeless, or the Skirball blaze that was sparked by a cooking fire in a homeless encampment). There’s an unavoidable, often unspoken, fear that the city around us may be in a state of irreversible decline, and a suspicion on the part of some that the rights of homeless people have trumped the rights of everyone else.
The increasing visibility of homelessness and destitution contributes to the uneasy feeling that the problem is closing in on everyone. It’s also a daily reminder that the values and systems to which we cling — liberty, democracy, free enterprise, the social contract that’s supposed to hold a community together, the safety net that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable — haven’t steered us out of this mess. Nor have our leaders.
Read the full editorial here.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.