Recently, Trump has tried to make homelessness in cities a political issue. Of course, being Trump, his solution is horrible, as it involves shipping the homeless to camps–and this has gone beyond the bullshitting stage, with officials touring unused federal facilities as possible camp locations.
A solution that has the potential to be rather, erm, final.
Just as immigration was was never just about stopping ‘illegal’ immigration, this proposed policy will not be just about housing the homeless (as inhumane a response to a lack of housing and support services as it is). This will be a reversion back to the Jim Crow era, where if you don’t have proof of residency–let’s call it a pass–you can be arrested (and often sent to a de facto
concentration work camp), except this time it could apply to anyone (Jim Crow, not just for black people anymore!).
Yet like many problems Trump raises, he’s not wrong to say it’s a failure, even if his solutions are monstrous and his motivations vile. Homelessness is a massive failure of governance, especially at state and local levels. In many places, one could blame divided government: the state government, controlled by Republicans, might be starving municipalities for funds. But California* is nominally controlled top to bottom by Democrats and has been for a while (arguably, the two-thirds majority required for tax increases limited Democratic initiatives for a long time, but important subtleties like that will get lost in the political weeds). Yet the state and its cities have failed on the whole. It’s very difficult to build market-rate housing in most Californian cities. It’s even harder to build a homeless shelter (got NIMBY?).
This is another manifestation of the crisis in governance in the U.S.
Democrats, and not just the ones operating at the national level, need to learn that, if they don’t solve (or at least significantly reduce) problems, Republicans–usually the worst of the lot–will propose solutions that will be awful in so many ways. Democrats, especially at the state and local levels, needed to be much more effective when it came to urban housing, but, instead, treated homelessness as ‘normal.’ The trouble with normal is that it always gets worse.
*Since Trump has no shot of winning California in the Electoral College and California Republicans have been annihilated on a local level, there’s also no political downside to beating up California.