619 Million Dollars

58,936, the number of people counted as homeless in 2019 according to the LA Times. 619 million dollars was spent on homelessness in Los Angeles County in 2019, this is the equivalent of having spent nearly $12k on every homeless person. Yet not only has there been zero improvement but there appears to have been a turn for the worse as Covid-19 rages persist. I don’t bring this figures up as a means to point out how ineffective government can be at times; I almost don’t blame them for following the guidance of the loudest activist in the room. Nor do I blame the activists; what heartless man/woman can look at a person sleeping in the street (regardless of the reason) and say to themselves “thats ok”.

However the unfortunate reality is this problem has become your fathers boat project. A never ending money pit, constantly taking up more space then should be allowed. Again I don’t bring this topic up as a means to promote capitalism, or socialism; rather I bring this topic to point out an irony. We are currently living through a period of time in Los Angeles county where the average starter home is exceeding 1/2 a million dollars; when 5 years ago the same home was hovering in the mid 350’s. The average 1 bedroom apartment is exceeding $2k a month in rent and a less desirable unit in a less desirable neighborhood hovers around $1,500. I cant help but ask myself the question “if I were homeless (I’ll define it as being without permanent residence in a fixed building; the fixed building is more relevant to my point) but still had a full time job making my full wage, and the stigma attached to homelessness weren’t so prevalent, would I be better off”.

Imagine if tomorrow I decided to take the same $12k the city spent on homelessness without much to show for it and built a tiny house on wheels, or I decided to build a homeless shelter capable of being sandwiched between freeway retaining wall and the edge of the sidewalk. Imagine I designed it in a postmodern fashion with a sprinkle of mid century modern. What would the dialogue be like from the public? Imagine parking the thing next to a home where the tiny house on wheels outshined the homes in the neighborhood.

I imagine the following. On one hand people would be in awe, and astounded by the ingenuity of such a precious gem. In the same hand I would have a viable business model, build tiny homes on wheels and sell them for a profit. On the other hand I would be pointing out how ridiculous it is the City is not only incapable of producing a solution as simple as this but would thus reject the idea in its entirety. They would find every excuse to terminate the idea from the public sphere. On another hand, I would be pointing out how ridiculous the idea of spending so much money on housing in Los Angeles actually is. On another hand, I would be doing the equivalent of showing up to a soup kitchen in a Ferrari and then sitting down next to a frequent customer in a 2019 Hugo Boss suit and chowing down on my take Sashimi from down the street.

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