The Los Angeles war against tiny homes

by on March 14, 2016 at 2:04 am in Current Affairs, Law | Permalink

So far Summer has given out 37 tiny 6- by 8-foot houses, which cost $1,200 each to build. They resemble sheds, painted in bright, solid colors, with solar panels on the roof, wheels to make them mobile and a portable camping toilet.

But recently, city sanitation workers confiscated three of the houses from a sidewalk in South Los Angeles and tagged others for removal.

“Unfortunately, these structures are a safety hazard,” says Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “These structures, some of the materials that were found in some of them, just the thought of folks having some of these things in a space so small, so confined, without the proper insulation, it really does put their lives in danger.”

Llanos says they’d be better off taking advantage of official resources like shelters or housing vouchers.


And this:

According to the latest count, 44,000 people live on the streets in and around LA. The city’s sweep put some people back on the sidewalks and since then Summers has been handing out tents instead.

Here is the NPR feature.  Perhaps there is a way to recognize and regularize a greater number of these structures?

1 Amber March 14, 2016 at 2:34 am

Wow, just wow–so you continue to advocate for more immigrants/refugees, even tho it is literaly creating shantytowns? Weird xenophilia.

2 Aaron J March 14, 2016 at 3:01 am

Honestly, what the hell are you talking about?

3 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 6:17 am

Most zoning laws are designed to keep property prices up by keeping out the riff raff. Mainly by requiring houses are a certain size and on a certain sized piece of land. These days maximum tenancy rules tend to be applied too.

Illegal immigrants are happy enough to be packed into slums. Zoning laws exist because of predatory landlords back in the day. Someone building small homes is actually allowing shanty towns for illegals. No one wants them near their homes given what it would do to their property prices. And they might well get a little emotional about it.

4 Peter Schaeffer March 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm


Amber is simply telling the truth. Open Borders produces a societal disaster. Victor Davis Hanson has a new piece out on the subject. See “The Weirdness of Illegal Immigration” (

His core point is that America’s failure to enforce the border has led inexorably to runaway lawlessness inside the U.S. Quote

“Out here almost all laws concerning the licensing and vaccination of dogs seem to have simply disappeared. No one can walk or ride a bicycle along these rural roads without being attacked by hounds that are unlicensed and not vaccinated—and that have no ID or indeed owners that step forward to claim ownership once the victim is bleeding. The Bloomberg Rule reigns (i.e., if you can’t keep snow off the street, deplore global warming or cosmic war): we talk of dreamers because we have not a clue how to ensure that hundreds of thousands of pets are registered and given rabies shots. No one suggests that once one breaks the law of his adopted home, and continues to do so through false affidavits, aliases, and fraudulent documents, then the law itself become an abstraction, useful as a shelter, expendable if an inconvenience. Again, one assumes that if a citizen were to do that, he would face a felony indictment.

I don’t think we have many zoning laws left, at least for particular constituencies. Yesterday, in field research for this essay, I drove in a 10-mile radius and counted the percentages of rural dwellings that had some sort of living quarters haphazardly attached—garages, Winnebagos, sheds, trailers, etc. Seven out of ten residences had multiple dwellings, and I counted an average of six cars at each residence—in a manner that 30 years ago would have quickly earned a visit from a county zoning officer (or would today, if county officials thought the violator would pay quickly the fine). Noncompliance has apparently become a cultural and economic necessity—especially with bigger fish to fry (such as the SWAT-team assault ¼ miles away last month on a den of supposed prostitution and drug sales, camouflaged in a barbed-wire enclosure in an orchard no less). That racket was certainly no “act of love.” Jeb Bush, where are you? The arrested were not on their way to have ice cream when the SWAT team pounced. Barack, where are you?”

The bottom line is simple. If you don’t keep the third world out, you get the third world.

5 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:48 pm

There are stray dogs and building without permits somewhere, ergo illegal immigrants are a societal disaster? For an obviously fine mind, your use logic and ability to lend appropriate weight and relevance to pieces of evidence just simply goes out the door on questions of immigration.

Like, would it be so hard to hire a building inspector and start handing out tickets for building code violations? The solution to this one is not hard, and would cost about $1 per resident per year, imaging that 0% of violators pay their fines. In the short term, it could serve as a fine revenue raiser.

6 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 6:17 pm

It is the broken windows problem again. Contempt for big laws leads to contempt for little laws. If you ignore illegal immigrants, you end up ignoring a lot of things. After all, most law enforcement is voluntary. You can’t lock up an entire community – well the New Zealanders did in Pitcairn but that was exceptional.

So yes, it would be hard to hire a building inspector. One in six? They would not get re-elected. Even if they did, they would get caught up in endless law suits. Even if they did that, why would people who ignore immigration laws obey local citations? Suppose they refuse to come to court? How many people do you think they can afford to arrest?

7 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

SMFS – I’m pretty sympathetic to this line of argumentation, but it tends to lead me more into the direction of thinking that we just have too many laws.

Not sure about immigration, however. I think greater legal avenues is worth considering.

Canada example: legal pathway for about half a million farm and labour workers to come, temporarily, on an annual basis. Weighted for population, that’s like five million for the USA. With the legal pathway guaranteed for next year, they basically always go home to spend winter with the family, and come back next year to provide the needed labour. But I’m not sure if the porous border would undermine the potential long term success of such an approach for the USA.

8 Peter Schaeffer March 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm


“There are stray dogs and building without permits somewhere, ergo illegal immigrants are a societal disaster? For an obviously fine mind, your use logic and ability to lend appropriate weight and relevance to pieces of evidence just simply goes out the door on questions of immigration.”

Victor Davis Hanson has lived his entire life in rural California. He has seen firsthand the relentless decline driven by Open Borders. Go read “Do We Want Mexifornia?” ( or “Mexifornia, Five Years Later” (

VDH is not a numbers guy. He doesn’t try to show an exact correlation between Open Borders and societal chaos. His approach is one of narrative and description. Of course, the numbers are terrifying. California has the highest percentage of people living in poverty (see “Census Bureau: California still has highest U.S. poverty rate “). California’s schools are rock bottom (having once been the best in the U.S.). Income inequality is massive (44th in the nation) having once been below average (for the U.S.). Real wages have plunged for all but the elite.

“Like, would it be so hard to hire a building inspector and start handing out tickets for building code violations?”

Laws can only be enforced if the community backs them. Open Borders has created a community with no interest in zoning, stray dogs, building permits, etc.

9 Dzhaughn March 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

What prejudiced is revealed by the assumption that it is immigrants and refugees are living in these structures?

10 Amber March 14, 2016 at 2:23 pm

That’s not necessarily the claim. Immigration–>higher rent, lower wages–>more homelessness.

Incomes have been falling in LA, rents increasing. Simple facts.

11 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm

What about cheaper building costs due to use of illegal labour? It’s not nearly as obvious as you suggest. Markets are not static. Illegals create jobs too, for their effects on demand.

12 Amber March 14, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Swamped by prison and welfare costs, as well as increased spending on private security. Ever been to LA?

13 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 11:53 pm

“What about cheaper building costs due to use of illegal labour? ”

In California, cheaper building costs are overwhelmed by expensive land costs and building codes. However, Houston has definitely benefited from cheaper building costs due to illegal labor. Indeed, I suspect the majority of the South East does as well. Of course the cheaper houses are offset by the lower average wages for low skilled workers and the higher welfare costs associated with a larger pool of low skilled workers.

14 Peter Schaeffer March 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm


“What about cheaper building costs due to use of illegal labour?”

In California, lower building costs simply raise land values. However, the real effect is on schools. Natives end up paying (far) more for housing to get away from poor people, including imported poor people. No less a liberal than Elizabeth Warren has commented that “many families have gone bankrupt trying to get their children into good schools in good neighborhoods.” Megan McCardle has mentioned the “arms race of families trying to buy their way into good neighborhoods”. No one wants to discuss it, but everyone knows what makes a neighborhood “good” or “bad”. The bottom line is that illegals make housing less affordable, not more.

15 Peter Schaeffer March 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm


“What prejudiced is revealed by the assumption that it is immigrants and refugees are living in these structures?”

No. The assumption is that Open Borders destroys the lives of so many people that immigrants, refugees, and natives all end up living in shantytown squalor.

Let me offer some real world history. The Lower East Side of Manhattan was known for its horrible slums and desperate living conditions for decades. Starting in 1917, the United States passed immigration restriction laws cutting off the flow of poor people from Europe. By the 1930s, the infamous tenements of the Lower East Side were mostly empty.

16 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

They could have just enforced better building codes and not let slumlords get away with running slums.

Easy fix.

Perhaps you could give us a concrete narrative of, say, one guy where everything gets destroyed in his life due to the impact of the average immigrant.

17 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Poor immigrants don’t live in poor housing because they prefer it. They live in it because they have low productivity and can’t afford better.

There is no point simply outlawing the type of housing they can afford as it just results on them sleeping on the streets.

18 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 11:55 pm

“They could have just enforced better building codes and not let slumlords get away with running slums.”

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.

19 kb March 14, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Amber and Peter, you know nothing about homelessness in LA. I quote

Other Facts About the Homeless Population in Los Angeles:
The average age is 40 – women tend to be younger.
33% to 50% are female. Men make up about 75% of the single population.
About 42% to 77% do not receive public benefits to which they are entitled.
20% to 43% are in families, typically headed by a single mother.
An estimated 20% are physically disabled.
41% of adults were employed within last year.
16% to 20% of adults are employed.
About 25% are mentally ill.
As children, 27% lived in foster care or group homes; 25% were physically or sexually abused
33%-66% of single individuals have substance abuse issues.
48% graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor degree or higher (as compared to 45% and 25% for the population overall respectively).

Race General Population / Homeless Population
Latino 47% / 33%
White 30% / 14%
African American 9%/ 50%
Asian/Pacific Islander 12% / 2%
Other 2% / Less than 1%

20 Peter Schaeffer March 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm


Presumably you have a problem “reading”. Let me help you. I wrote

“No. The assumption is that Open Borders destroys the lives of so many people that immigrants, refugees, and natives all end up living in shantytown squalor.”

21 Aaron J March 14, 2016 at 3:02 am

This story is like a libertarian’s dream, ironic that it comes from NPR.

22 dan1111 March 14, 2016 at 6:41 am

I would think most libertarians view roads and sidewalks are a legitimate government function, and therefore some level of regulation of what people can use these spaces for would be equally legitimate.

On the other hand, advocating for wide rights/privileges for a favored group, regardless of systemic effect, is a classic leftist argument. NPR is clearly interested because this is a story about the homeless.

23 Observer March 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm

“I would think most libertarians view roads and sidewalks are a legitimate government function”

Like any other utiltiy, roads and sidewalks can be privatized.

24 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Sure, but there is generally an expectation that the polity receive payment in exchange. Occupying 25 square feet of a sidewalk for you tiny house isn’t what most libertarians seem to have in mind when they discuss privatization.

25 Observer March 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Speak for yourself.

26 MC March 14, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Historically the cost of maintaining sidewalks in LA (which are generally in poor condition today) has been the responsibility of property owners and that burden gradually shifted to the city, which the city now wants to shift back to property owners. Perhaps property owners would be more willing to accept the burden if they could profit from tenants occupying a portion of the sidewalk.

27 Vadim March 14, 2016 at 3:27 am

These will be empty in the summer, heck even through much of Autumn.

28 chuck martel March 14, 2016 at 5:37 am

Ya gotta conform. The tiny house concept is just a little too weird for even the capital of weird, LA. But taking them off of the streets is just the sort of thing that comes to mind every time the words “land of the free and home of the brave” are sung before a rodeo.

29 wiki March 14, 2016 at 6:57 am

At what point after authorizing these structures will shantytowns form with squatters who eventually lay claim to rights on land that is not theirs? And as in Latin America, many leaders may use selective enforcement of antisquatting laws as a way of harming their political enemies and favoring groups that would increase votes for them. DeSoto never mentions the strategic element of squatters’ shanty towns which — once tolerated — lead to long term destruction of middle class bourgeois rights.

30 rayward March 14, 2016 at 7:12 am

Here’s a story about lodging at the other end of the spectrum. That a Chinese (insurance) company now owns some of the most recognizable names in American luxury hotels isn’t surprising, but the contrast between Americans living in sheds while a Chinese company invests heavily in luxury hotels is a bit jarring. I recall the days when Japan was viewed as the greatest threat to the American economy and the adverse public reaction when a Japanese company bought Pebble Beach (the famous golf facility). Now, a Chinese company buys these famous luxury hotel brands and there’s little or no public reaction. Would President Trump stop the sale? Or would President Trump collect his share of the booty?

31 8 March 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

China is bulldozing its shantytowns to upgrade its housing stock, while America is building shantytowns. China is focused on the quality of its population, while America fills up with “fruit pickers.”

32 Cliff March 14, 2016 at 9:17 am

And how did those purchases by the Japanese turn out? Pretty good for the Americans who sold…

33 Bob from Ohio March 14, 2016 at 10:40 am

And for the Americans who bought cheap from the Japanese a few years later.

34 Steve March 14, 2016 at 7:44 am

A way to regularlize. Reg, reg . . .. Let me think.

35 Herb March 14, 2016 at 7:54 am

If only homelessness could be “fixed” by building a bunch of sheds on wheels.

Here in Denver there was a dispute between a homeless advocacy group and some developers. They both agreed that a piece of vacant land should be improved. The homeless group thought it best to improve the lot with improvised tiny houses and give them to homeless people. The developers thought it best to improve the lot by constructing a modern code-compliant building that would price out the homeless, even if it did include “low income units.”

You’re the mayor. Who do you support?

36 TMC March 14, 2016 at 9:03 am

Who owned the land?

37 The Anti-Gnostic March 14, 2016 at 9:25 am

Pope Francis, David Duke, Donald Trump, the City … what difference does it make?

Do you want to be mayor of Shantytown or mayor of Yuppieville?

38 TMC March 14, 2016 at 11:49 am

Point is, whoever owns the land get to decide what to put up. I’ll try to be even more obvious in future posts if possible.

39 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

And the obvious answer was that the municipal government functionally owned the land, giving the decision to the mayor.

40 Alain March 14, 2016 at 11:55 am

Tell the homeless advocacy group to purchase the lot, at market prices, and develop their own houses with money acquired from donations.

Everyone wins.

41 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Because anyone who is not an “advocate” thinks homeless people should sleep on a grate?

42 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 1:00 am

This happens more often than you think. Kept my family housed for a year as a teenager, or at the least out of the slums, due to significantly below market rent while we got our shit together. Mostly churches doing this stuff. Someone left a church with a multi multi million dollar cheque and instead of expensive and unnecessary upgrades to the church, they actually did something Christian with it.

Another church in the same neighbourhood sold a fairly large empty lot at what I believe was significantly below market price to another charity that wanted to build a homeless shelter with various intervention services (e.g., counselling, getting access to basic social services, steering towards work options for many, etc.) to get people back on track.

Many social housing advocates support directing public social housing resources to this kind of thing because a) they are already in place, well managed and know what to do and b) less so, because it’s cheaper than hiring a bunch of unionized public sector workers. Also, the notion of matching private resources is more legitimate than 100% public-directed programs, because the existence of private charitable resources is proof of a public desire to address the problem, without having to guess about the meaning of various political advocacy.

Hamilton Ontario. It’s pretty left wing and has always had strong and organized working class advocacy. Not a lot of social conservatives among Christians in that city.

43 Godfrey Parke March 15, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I’d pawn a pearl necklace to raise capital that would allow me to open a club on the spot.

44 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

I’m not sure that this is the best answer, but the apparent concern that they don’t have insulation seems a little BS since it never really gets that cold in LA, certainly not to the point of being a health risk.

Of course, they should have to pay rent for whatever piece of land the roll their “house” on to, and if tolerated it should be mandated that such rental areas include adequate toilet and shower facilities (security might also be a concern, but isn’t that what police are for?). Why not allow urban mini-trailer parks?

45 joe March 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

From that picture it looks like they just deposit one on a public parking spot right outside some poor schmuck’s house. I guess they’re fine as long as they’re in someone else’s neighborhood.

46 Alain March 14, 2016 at 11:58 am

> I guess they’re fine as long as they’re in someone else’s neighborhood

This is the definition of the modern liberal. “I want my desires fulfilled with your resources!”

47 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Parking spots are a public resource, not “your resources”. Wtf do “liberals” have to do with this?

48 Jay March 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Are you really trying to imply that this is the same as someone parking their Dodge in the spot instead?

49 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Jan – many municipalities have rules like you technically can’t park your car in the same spot for more than 24 hours at a time. No, I don’t think it’s the same as parking a vehicle there, the point is that it’s using a public resource, not a private resource.

50 Thor March 14, 2016 at 11:27 pm

It’s a home, Nathan, for goodness sake! It will need to be hooked up to the sewers, etc. It is impossible to compare it to a parking lot.

51 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 1:06 am

Thor – yeah, I was wondering what they do with the contents of portable toilets. Seems troublesome.

52 The Anti-Gnostic March 15, 2016 at 9:13 am

Liberal Canadian astounded to learn people take up space, generate waste.

53 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 10:02 am

T A G – a profoundly dumb interpretation of what I said, considering that I first mentioned that rent should be paid for the location of the trailor and second mentioned about basic needs for toilets and showers.

Why is it so important for you to spin me as dumb?

54 Durr March 14, 2016 at 2:45 pm

That’s because its pretty blatantly a move to keep them out of the cities. Insulation has nothing to do with it.

55 BenK March 14, 2016 at 8:51 am

There’s clearly a tipping point somewhere between being a statement and becoming a favela.

56 LR March 14, 2016 at 9:24 am

No way taxpayers will allow these things on normal residential streets. But yes by all means build a shantytown with public toilets and showers, and public transportation. Kind of like an inland marina for the homeless. Pay the residents who are willing to work to clean and maintain the place. Maybe some down and out psychotherapists can live there, It will need a police force of course, and will be a haven for drug dealers. Maybe pay people for turning in their neighbors who have drugs or guns.

57 dearieme March 14, 2016 at 9:28 am

Why don’t they just park them on the beach in Malibu? They’d look rather like those picturesque beach huts you get in England. And the Democrat-supporting rich of Malibu can be confidently expected to welcome them.

58 Bob from Ohio March 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

Lots of big mansions all over LA with only a few residents and many bedrooms. These rich liberals should invite them into their homes, don’t you think?

59 anon March 14, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for exposing your own sickness to us all.

If those other people care about homeless (you obviously don’t) then inviting them into their homes is the only answer.

60 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm

I imagine the Malibu folks would rather just pay a not-too-low tax rate, observe that homeless shelters are build and staffed properly, and forget about the problem altogether. I don’t imagine you’d find a single person in Malibu who wants to invite the homeless into their homes on any regular basis.

Seems practical. Problem solved and out of mind all at the same time.

61 The Anti-Gnostic March 14, 2016 at 9:43 am

This is more of the Progressive Left looking at the problem from the wrong end. They assume the problem is “homelessness,” in the sense that if these people just had a “home” they’d be fine and their living spaces wouldn’t become filthy, toxic, crime-ridden, etc. The root problem for most of the homeless is that they are mentally ill.

62 Sir Graphus March 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

I agree with your first sentence. The state sector insists that the state must provide the solution. If the solution comes from the private sector, that’s almost worse than no solution at all.

63 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm

What solution is the private sector proposing? And no, I do not consider camping out on public property as a private sector solution.

64 anon March 14, 2016 at 10:26 am

Studies have shown that if you get a homeless person into a home, they improve. Problem is a complex gulf of paperwork which is a challenge for anyone of anyway diminished capacity.

What do you need today? Successfully file for rental assistance, and then find a unit currently accepting same?

65 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Not only that, it’s a lot cheaper than paying for homeless shelters, the reduced health care costs (including mental health) and cost of police/judicial resources. Counterintuitively, just paying their rent and leaving them with a small cheque to cover basics can be a huge savings, and is also the best path for those who are able to to transition into productive activities.

66 Thor March 14, 2016 at 11:30 pm

What about the Native people in Canada? They are provided with homes, precisely so they won’t fill the homeless shelters. Based on what I have read, this is not working very well. (Perhaps it is moral, but it is not working. That’s not even to get into the structural dependency that is created, or the moral hazard.)

67 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 1:15 am

First Nations are … a complicated issue. For starters, most social services in Canada are constitutionally related to provincial jurisdiction. However, First Nations relations are constitutionally defined as under federal relations, not related to provincial stuff. Also, there’s the whole matter of treat rights/obligations, which means that a lot of monies are not necessarily part of social assistance strictly speaking, but may be inherent to the nature of some treaties. But, these treaties are highly heterogeneous, and there is essentially no desire by either party to renegotiate (the Nishka nation in the Prince Rupert area is an exception, but they clearly entered into full self governance long before they actually had the capacity to do so effectively, and there have been some problems).

There may be issues with structural dependency, but a bigger problem is perhaps a culture wide lack of confidence, a communal depression and social malaise, almost of sorts, perhaps relating to having lost, lost bad, had so much of their culture wiped out, and bigtime stuck in a bad spot and having troubles to climb out. Unfortunately, the victim narrative (rather legitimate in many senses) seems to be overwhelming the discourse, and there seems to be altogether too little leadership from within those communities to stand up tall. However, for all that you may hear complaints about how much public resources are allocated to First Nations, or the rates of increase compared to the rest of the population, the reality is that historical allocations were virtually nil, and remain lower per capita than social allocations to non-native Canadians, despite living in remote and expensive locations.

The matter of building homes is not so much reltaed to keeping them out of homeless shelters. These homes are often built on reserves many hundreds or sometimes even thousands of km away from the nearest homeless shelter. Rather, it is a desire to ensure some basic adequacy in housing conditions in native communities. Unfortunately, local leadership is not always (almost never, in fact) up to the task of efficient deployment of these resources.

68 The Anti-Gnostic March 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

I’ll boil it down for you: r-selected populations require immense institutional support in K-selected societies. So in practical terms, K-selected are taxed to pay for r-selected.

In even more elemental terms, hunter-gatherers don’t prosper when the farmers show up.

69 Peter Schaeffer March 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm


Over the course of reading many publications, all over the world, over many decades, I have observed a pattern. People are generally much more conservative (right-wing) about their own country than the rest of the world. Your comments are entirely inline with my observations abroad. My point here is not a criticism of your remarks (“First Nations are … a complicated issue”), but the pattern. Years ago, I was surprised to discover that a liberal/left Swiss newspaper (NZZ) had little use for rioters in Switzerland. Foreign criticisms of French “racism” don’t seem to impress the French quite so much. I would be the first to agree that the fate of “First Nations” (a term generally only familiar to Canadians) has been grim. What to do about it is another matter.

70 Nathan W March 16, 2016 at 7:16 am

PS – interesting point, and you’re probably right.

On the “what to do” sort of question. Well, I’m pretty supportive of spending money to support solutions, but in my opinion the main block in the whole debate is that any politician or public figure who says anything like “OK, we’re being pretty supportive. So … what are YOU doing to fix any of your own problems?” is immediately branded an unsympathetic asshole with virtual certainty that he will be painted as an FN-hating racist.

There are definitely parallels with issues with African Americans in the USA, but largely absent the issue of the illegality of the drug trade (a career option for lowly educated individuals with little social capital) and the War on Drugs, which I’m inclined to think explains most of the culture of violence in certain quarters.

For example, in First Nations communities, alcoholism is rampant, suicide rates are higher than just about anywhere in the world, child sexual abuse is very high, and educational attainment is very low even when there is OK access to schooling. Even MENTION these facts, and there are those who will try to paint you as racist. Much like with black communities in the USA, how the f**k can you move towards any solutions if any discussion of the issues is banned outright for practical purposes?

Like, I don’t want to “blame” FN or “blame” blacks, but white boys should be allowed to walk in the room as say “hey … I’ve heard there are problems ABCDEFG. We’re spending lots of money to help you with solutions, and I want to know: What are YOU doing to work on that?”. But that’s not allowed, and in the meantime, THEY aren’t talking about it either. The result is entirely predictable: things are not getting better.

71 Peter Schaeffer March 18, 2016 at 12:14 am


I won’t try to add to your comments other than to suggest that the situation in Canada is probably (not sure) better than Australia. However, I did leave out one country / newspaper from my list. For decades I read every single word in every single issue of the Economist. I was always struck by how much more right-wing the Economist was at home versus the USA.

72 El Gringo March 14, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Bingo. The proportion of homeless that are either mentally ill, drug addicts, or both, is very, very high and legal developments over the last 50+ years make it almost impossible to keep them off the street. More budget or housing won’t do a thing until the legal aspects of this are re-examined. Great book on the subject “my brother ron.”

73 Floccina March 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

Let them live in cake.

74 Floccina March 14, 2016 at 10:59 am

Why would this libertarian who believes in property right support Summers because:

1. The right to subdivide has been taken away driving up the cost of housing.
2. Slow growth policies have pushed up home costs too much.
3. Minimum housing standard have gotten too high.

75 Erick March 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

Regardless of how small the houses are, isn’t the housing still going to be less dense than a multistory structure (if you also made the units fairly small and simple). And if these aren’t going in residential lots like a larger structure would, then aren’t they just obstructing land that has other uses?

So they’re just a gimmick, right?

I mean, that’s not even getting into the whole issue of housing not actually solving the problem for most of these people, whether they’ll trash the thing, sell the thing, abandon the thing, burn down the thing, etc.

76 anon March 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

These are essentially “dry cabins” legal in rural areas, but zoned out in most cities, originally for reasons of public health. Now also for zoning for homeowner value.

Sad but not surprising that the Improvement of dry cabins would run into zoning.

Perhaps we should give direct subsidy to those with “dependent adults?” Encourage family, friends, to take them in with direct incentive.

77 Ray Lopez March 14, 2016 at 10:48 am

I live in the Philippines, and for a while in Manila, and you’ve not seen crowded until you go to greater Manila, roughly 30 M people packed into something along the lines of greater Washington DC (inside the Beltway). People live in cardboard boxes, about three foot square, under bridges. The original “trolls”. As you walk by you can see them eating, sleeping, bathing, oblivious to the on-lookers.

78 anon March 14, 2016 at 10:59 am

In modern California you see prison work crews cleaning storm systems, leaving homeless in place under their trees.

Not the 21st century I expected.

79 DevOps Dad March 14, 2016 at 11:23 am

Excellent observation, Ray, and to prevent this nightmare from ever happening in the U.S., we should begin deporting our zero marginal product illegal trolls and only allow immigrates who create well paying jobs or legally make $120,000 or more a year.

80 Pshrnk March 14, 2016 at 12:21 pm

What do you mean “make $120,000 or more a year.”? W2? Do we count rents?

81 Ray Lopez March 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm

You get used to it, so I wouldn’t call it a nightmare. Poor people are just like you and me, but I’m sure poverty brings out the bad apples more so (maybe, or statistically) than from being rich.

82 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Wait. Are they ZMP or stealing all the jobs?

83 The Anti-Gnostic March 14, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Both. Today’s 30-yo roofer who doesn’t pay income tax is tomorrow’s 50-yo on disability. (In other words, no, they will not pay your pension).

84 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Illegal immigrants do not qualify for disability. They will work work work and never qualify for benefits.

85 JWatts March 15, 2016 at 12:09 am

California: “NOTE: Undocumented immigrants can still receive State Disability Insurance if they meet all requirements for it, just like everyone else can.”

86 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 1:19 am

Wow. We’re not talking Rhode Island here. That’s a pretty important exception.

87 The Anti-Gnostic March 15, 2016 at 9:12 am

Who said anything about “illegals?” You do realize the US accepts around ONE MILLION legal immigrants a year, and most of them aren’t college grads.

Let me take you to a Social Security office here in Atlanta. There is a tsunami building.

88 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

Holy smokes! A right winger changing a sub-discussion on immigration AWAY from illegal immigration and TOWARDS legal migration!History in the making! More of this please! (However, I think you just wanted to pester me in some attempt to potray some level of hypocrisy or something, but whatever the cause, I consider it as welcome.)

To answer your direct question however, after extensive analysis and careful thought, I follow my gut instinct with the original observation that is was DevOps Dad who changed the topic to illegals. Don’t believe me? Just scroll up a few lines and engage that grey matter like your life depended on it – you will find the truth!

89 GoneWithTheWind March 14, 2016 at 11:01 am

Most/all of the homeless are either people with mental problems and/or chemical addiction problems. The big fantasy the media pushes is that somehow average everyday middle class people are the homeless. Certainly some “normal” people find themselves homeless but they quickly find some way to get out of that condition. It is the hard core drunk, drug user and mentally ill who are the homeless. If we want to fix this problem than we need to tackle the cause and not bandage the symptoms. Homeless people should be taken into custody when they break the law, sleep on the streets, defacate/urinate on the streets and evaluated for their problems and treated appropriately.

90 Ray Lopez March 14, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Ah, the Swiss model for the homeless. They tried that in the 50s, with lobotomies and all, and some Sup. Ct. cases closed down the asylums. St. Elizabeths used to be the DC nuthouse.

91 anon March 14, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Asylums were bad, so we tried it without them. That path is not all roses either.

92 Cooper March 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Mental asylums allow some people to get the help they need to reintegrate into society. It keeps the rest off the street and away from our public spaces.

If we can figure out a way to run these clinics cheaply, it might be better to try that than to just allow them to camp out under highways and beg on the streets.

Right now, HUD estimates that each homeless person costs taxpayers $40K/year. If we can institutionalize them for $30K/year, let’s try that instead.

93 Make Donald Drumpf Again March 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

Petition to arrest Trump for inciting violence. There’s a button to share on social media at the petition page.

94 Alain March 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm

I can’t think of anything more deserving of a -1

95 Peter Schaeffer March 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm


96 enoriverbend March 14, 2016 at 1:44 pm

For every Trump idiocy, there is an equal and opposite idiocy.

97 IVV March 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm

“The city’s sweep put some people back on the sidewalks and since then Summers has been handing out tents instead.”

Oh, no, those tiny houses are substandard and can’t offer you proper protection. Here, have a tent.

98 Dzhaughn March 14, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Since a 10×20 shipping container (with a leak proof guarantee) can be had for $2000 retail, I wonder if these 6x8ers represent a poor value at $1200.

99 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Shipping containers outgas bad stuff. Found unsuitable for housing.

100 jorod March 14, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Put the alcoholics, mentally disturbed and slackers in boxes. Only in California…

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