People Over Profits

Homelessness has become a national crisis. Yet all the pleading for help and affordable housing gets nowhere because of money. Cities need tax revenues for services and, as Portlanders discovered, county officials tried to get more revenue out of them by increasing the property taxes on “granny units.”

“Affordable housing” means it won’t be profitable to cities and developers; it’s not a good investment.

Now add official indifference to the equation. Artist Elvis Summers built tiny mobile units for the homeless in Los Angeles and the city responded by confiscating them and the contents to be destroyed instead of using $2 billion set aside to solve this problem. Why? Because they don’t care.

Some cities are making a difference. Albuquerque and Little Rock hire the homeless to pick up garbage. They get paid and receive free lunch and access to social services. Salt Lake City provides an apartment and counseling services and decreased chronic homelessness by 67 percent. This is cheaper than the revolving ER-lockup policy currently being done.

The solution is simple if everyone cooperates. But if profits are the only goal, there is no incentive to help our fellow human beings have a warm, safe place to live.

Alisa McLaughlin